Photo: Vincent Yu/AP Images
But all eyes were on the make-up of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) – the all important decision making body that had been kept under wraps.
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Earlier this year it was reported that the PSC would be reduced to seven members, down from nine in order to simplify the decision making process and to limit power given to certain departments.
After an hour-long delay Xinhua announced the seven leaders that will form the new PSC:
- Xi Jinping – Head of China’s Communist Party and chairman of China’s Central Military Commission
- Li Keqiang – Premier (in March)
- Zhang Dejiang – Head of National People’s Congress
- Yu Zhengsheng – Head of Chinese People’s Consultative Conference
- Liu Yunshan – Head of Propaganda Department
- Wang Qishan – Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
- Zhang Gaoli – Executive Vice Premier
For investors that have been watching for these names, it is important to remember that the party’s political path already seemed set based on Hu Jintao’s speech during the opening ceremony of the 18th Congress.
Simon Rabinovitch of the Financial Times writes that Wang Qishan’s appointment to the position of secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is one of the most disappointing and worrisome developments:
“The biggest disappointment is the relegation of Wang Qishan, a strong voice for change, to the lowest-ranked position in the standing committee of the politburo, the seven-person team that forms the core of China’s leadership.
Many had hoped that Mr Wang, previously a vice premier responsible for economic and financial affairs, would be given even more authority over the economy. Instead, he will head a discipline inspection body that conducts corruption investigations.”
He is also extremely worried about the appointment of Zhang to the role of executive vice premier since he drove growth as party secretary of Tianjin by taking on vast amounts of debt and helping create ghost towns and bridges to nowhere.
The party has yet to unveil its 25-member Politburo and the 12-member Central Military Commission.
Xi Jinping, Head of Communist Party, chairman of China's Central Military Commission, and President (in March)
Former positions: Member of Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), vice chair of central military commission (CMC) and vice president of China
Policy priorities: Xi Jinping is concerned with developing the private sector. He also wants to speed up market liberalization in foreign investment and develop Shanghai as a financial and shipping centre.
Background: Xi was promoted to the Politburo standing committee during the 2007 Party Congress. He was also the first leader not chosen through a broader polling of CPC officials, rather, he was chosen through a polling of CPC officials.
Xi is considered a princeling since his father Xi Zhongxun was a former vice-premier.
Former position: Member of PSC, executive vice premier
Policy priorities: Li Keqiang is pushing for the development of affordable housing, programs of basic healthcare and social welfare, and is promoting clean energy.
Background: Unlike many Chinese leaders Li Keqiang comes from a less-privileged family. He was once a member of the Communist Youth League before he moved up and is therefore a member of the Tuanpai faction. Li was elevated to the PSC during the 2007 Party Congress and is likely to retain his position.
Former position: Politburo member, vice premier in charge of energy, telecommunications and transportation
Policy priorities: Zhang Dejiang wants to develop state-owned enterprises (SEOs), promote 'China's Go Global Strategy' and indigenous innovation.
Background: Zhang served two terms as a member of the Politburo and was always more likely to make the PSC. The public has however been angry at him for for his handling of the Wenzhou railroad accident after he ordered the bodies of victims to buried on the site, according to NTDTV.
Former position: Politburo member, Shanghai party chief
Policy priorities: Yu Zhengsheng is in favour of promoting the private sector and urban development. He also wants rule of law, legal development and high-GDP growth.
Background: Yu is also a princeling and a formidable power. Hu Jintao and other leaders of the populist coalition were expected to try to get him to retire at the 18th Party Congress given the age limit.
Moreover, NTDTV said reports of mistresses and his alleged involvement in a $20 million embezzlement scandal tied to the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail have tainted his record.
Former position: Politburo Member, head of CCP propaganda dept
Policy priorities: Liu Yunshan wants more control over the media and the internet. He also wants to promote China's soft power overseas.
Background: Liu was a member of the Communist Youth League before moving up the ranks, and is therefore a member of the Tuanpai faction. He has worked in inner Mongolia for over 20 years.
Former position: Politburo member, Tianjin party chief
Policy priorities: Zhang Gaoli wants to see market liberalization in foreign investment, economic efficiency and high-rate GDP growth.
Background: Zhang was often considered to be competing with Wang Yang for PSC membership. He is Jiang Zemin, former president of People's Republic of China's protege. He has a conventional, less ostentatious style of leadership than Bo Xilai whom he used to compete against until Xilai's dismissal. His motto: 'Do more. Speak Less.'
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