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China's leader-in-waiting Xi gets top job at key party meet

November 07, 2012 20:53 IST

Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping is virtually confirmed to be the successor to outgoing President Hu Jintao after he was formally designated as the secretary general of the once-in-a-decade leadership meet of the ruling Communist party beginning in Beijing on Thursday, signalling smooth transfer of power.

The preparatory meeting of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China appointed Xi as secretary-general of the five-yearly event, the spokesman of the Communist Party Congress, Cai Mingzhao, told the media ahead of the week-long event.

Fifty-nine-year-old Xi, son of a former vice-premier was being projected as the new leader to succeed Hu both as general secretary of the party and president of the country, while Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, 57, is expected to take over the premiership from Wen Jiabao.

Chinese leaders at the top level retire after a 10-year tenure.

The power transfer was expected to be smooth as hardliner Bo Xilai has already been sacked from the party after he was embroiled in a scandal relating to the murder of alleged MI6 spy Neil Heywood.

While Bo awaits trial, his wife Gu Kailai has already been given a suspended death sentence for her complicity in the murder. Cai said the congress would deliberate on a various policies relating to the Party ideology as well as social and economic development of the country.

On the allegations against Bo and former Railway Minister Liu Zhijun, Cai said the Congress will come up 'overall arrangements' to step up fight against corruption.

"The problems of Bo and Liu are serious corruption cases among leading cadres of the Party, and the lessons are profound," but their handling of their cases showed the party's strong resolve and distinct attitude against corruption.

There was no reference to allegations by the New York Times that Wen's family had accumulated over $2.7 billion wealth.

Cai said the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is drafting a working plan on punishing and preventing corruption. Bo, a former commerce minister was slapped with various charges which included sex, sleaze and covering up his wife's role in the murder of the Briton.

While Liu had been under investigation since February 2011, when he was sacked on suspicion of 'serious disciplinary violations'.

Asked about the Party opening up for multi party democracy in China, Cai said the Chinese people will enjoy greater democracy in the future as the country proceeds with reform of the political system, but political restructuring should be advanced according to national conditions.

Calling political restructuring 'an important part' of China's comprehensive reform, Cai said while initiating political structural reform in China, the Party has to take into consideration China's national reality and unswervingly stick to the right path made by the Party and the people amid long-term practise.

"We should not be intimidated by any risk or be confused by any distraction," he said.

He said new members of the 360 member central committee will be decided through competitive election. Delegates and specially invited delegates to the party congress will select members and alternate members of the through secret ballot in competitive election, Cai said.

There are a total of 2,325 delegates and specially invited delegates to the 18th party congress. Competitive elections were first introduced to the 13th Party congress in 1987.

After that competitive election was written into the party's constitution to improve 'intra-Party democracy', he said. Cai said the party would continue follow Deng Xiaoping's theory of reforms while stressing on Marxism-Leninism and the Mao Zedong Thought.

Earlier media reports said the ruling CPC would abandon Mao's thought all together.

K J M Varma in Beijing
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