China's all-powerful Communist Party on Thursday unveiled a new seven-man leadership council steered by Xi Jinping to take command of the world's number two economy for the next decade.
Promises a better life
After striding out in Beijing's Great Hall of the People as the party's new general-secretary, succeeding President Hu Jintao, Xi vowed to fight official corruption and build a "better life" for the nation's 1.3 billion people.
Xi's long-expected ascent to the apex of national politics was confirmed when he emerged onto the stage in the hall on Tiananmen Square in front of the rest of the elite Politburo Standing Committee, after a week-long party congress.
Xi, 59, has an impeccable political pedigree as the son of a lieutenant to revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. He will formally replace Hu as state president when the rubber-stamp legislature confirms the appointment in March.
"We are not complacent, and we will never rest on our laurels," Xi said in his first address to the nation, standing in front of his six colleagues on the new elite committee.
The previous committee had nine men, and analysts said the lower number would ease decision-making at the consensus-driven heights of the Communist Party for the next decade as China shapes up to rapid change on a host of fronts."Under the new conditions, our party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the party that need to be resolved," Xi said, highlighting corruption and "being divorced from the people".
"We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole party must stay on full alert." The speech marked the most significant appearance on the national stage for a man about whom still little is known.He appeared confident and far more relaxed than his stiff predecessor Hu, starting out by apologising for the speech's late start.
Xi's standing at the top of China's opaque power structure was emphasised with Hu also handing him control of the Central Military Commission.AFP