Beijing (AsiaNews) - Without much surprise, this morning Xi Jinping was elected the new secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the first session of the new Central Committee. He will be the head of the new Politburo Standing Committee, which includes the names of the vice-premier Li Keqiang, who in March will become the new prime minister; Zhang Dejiang, who studied in North Korea; Yu Zhengsheng, Party chief in Shanghai, Liu Yunshan , propaganda chief, Wang Qishan, from the Disciplinary Committee; Zhang Gaoli, party chief in Tianjin.
Wang Yang, party secretary of Guangdong, considered a reformer, Li Yuanchao, head of organization and Liu Yandong, woman, believed Hu's ally succeeded in being named to the Central Committee, but not the permanent Committee.
However, the new composition of the Standing Committee does not present many surprises: their names had long been on media lists and in discussions among members of the party.
As expected, the number of members of the Standing Committee is now seven, the previous one was nine. The official reason is that fewer numbers will facilitate the unity of the group, under the leadership of Xi. Most of them are part of the so-called "princelings," the children of former high ranking Party members, who gained political and economic power thanks to their backgrounds.
At least four of them are linked to the so-called "Shanghai clique" led by 86-year-old Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao's predecessor, who is still very influential and supports economic modernization, favours state capitalism, facilitating state-owned industries and is a strong supporter of the Party's leadership and monopoly of power.
In his meeting with reporters, Xi Jinping stressed that the party is facing many challenges, especially corruption, being distant from the people and too much bureaucracy. He promised "every effort" to solve problems, asking the Party to "be alert" to ensure "a better life" for the people, a "stronger" and a "more powerful" China.
The election of Xi Jinping, 59, and his group marks the transition from the Fourth to the Fifth generation of leaders. For the second time in CCP history, the handover was painless and without war. This time, however, there is a surprise: as of today Hu Jintao is not only handing over party leadership to Xi Jinping, but also the direction of the Central Military Commission (CMC). His predecessor Jiang Zemin - and before him Deng Xiaoping - had wanted to keep the leadership of the CMC for two years. It is unclear whether this move was forced on Hu - a sign of a further weakening of his faction - or if he wanted to set an example to the whole Party withdrawing from all charges once his mandate had ended.
In the Hu decade, China has seen a surprising economic development, overtaking Germany and Japan in the world's economies, but this development was marked by problems of imbalance, a growing gap between rich and poor, pollution and massive social unrest.