Outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao has formally relinquished his role at the top of the ruling Communist Party, clearing the way for Xi Jinping to take over as the country's new leader.
Hu, 69, formally bade farewell to the party at a function in Beijing on Thursday night after ensuring once-in-a-decade smooth transfer of power.
Keeping up with the party rules and conventions, Hu quit as party general secretary, president and chairman of the military commission, handing over all the three powerful posts to his successor Xi, 59, who formally elected as the new leader of the party on Thursday.
Hu's graceful exit was different from that of his predecessor Jiang Zemin who continued as chairman of the military commission for two years even after retirement and retained his influence over the party till today.
Hu along with his fellow retiring officials, including Premier Wen Jiabao, bade farewell to the party at the function attended by Xi and other new leaders and delegates of the 18th Party Congress.
Hu and Wen would continue in office as Chinese President and Premier respectively till March next year.
Xi, who was the vice president till now, will replace Hu as president in March, while Li Keqiang, 57, will succeed Prime Minister Wen.
Thanking the party delegates for the smooth conduct of the just concluded once-in-a-decade leadership Congress, Hu said it held the banners of unity and enterprising spirit high with emphasis on continuity.
Hu said studying and implementing the spirit of the party congress is the top political task at present.
Hu called on all party members, military forces and Chinese people of various ethnic groups to follow the lead of the new Central Committee with Xi as the general secretary, state-run media reported.
"The party should firmly pursue the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, free up the mind, carry out reform and opening up, pool strength, overcome all difficulties, strive for the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieve new victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics," Hu said.
Paying rich tributes to the outgoing leadership, Xi said that the party under Hu's leadership rallied Chinese people of all ethnic groups, has made significant achievements that attracted attention of the world.
"We have high respect for them," said Xi.
"We will bear in mind what Hu has entrusted us, conscientiously study, publicise and implement the spirit of the 18th CPC National Congress," Xi said, calling for solidarity and hard work in striving for a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Credit: Jason Reed/Reuters