Chinese Communist Party to unveil new leadership

Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:09pm EST
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By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party unveils a new leadership line-up on Thursday to steer the world's second-largest economy for the next five years, with Vice President Xi Jinping taking over from outgoing President Hu Jintao as party chief.

The new members of the Politburo Standing Committee - the innermost circle of power in China's authoritarian government - will emerge after a closely controlled vote by the party's new 205-member central committee, which was installed at the end of a five-yearly party congress on Wednesday.

Only Xi and Vice Premier Li Keqiang are certain to be on the new standing committee. Xi will take over Hu's state position in March at the annual meeting of parliament, when Li will succeed Premier Wen Jiabao.

The committee is expected to be reduced to seven seats from nine to make consensus-building easier.

The other preferred candidates, according to sources close to the party leadership, are North Korean-trained economist Zhang Dejiang, financial guru Wang Qishan, minister of the party's organization department Li Yuanchao, Tianjin's party boss Zhang Gaoli, and the conservative Liu Yunshan, who has kept domestic media on a tight leash.

The list of the conservative-leaning preferred candidates was drawn up by Xi, Hu and Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, the sources said.

Wang, currently vice-premier in charge of economic affairs, is popular with foreign investors but seems set to lead the fight against corruption, having been elected to the party's main anti-graft body on Wednesday.

Guangdong's reform-minded party boss Wang Yang, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng and Liu Yandong, the lone woman, are dark horse candidates.   Continued...

China's Vice President Xi Jinping (front L) and China's Vice-Premier Li Keqiang (front R) leave their seats after the closing session of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee