China's New Helmsmen

BEIJING, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- A new generation of top Chinese leaders took the stage on Thursday in one of the world's most important power transitions, taking the helm of the ruling party of the world's second-largest economy and the most populous country.

Xi Jinping was sworn in as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), leading the seven-seat Political Bureau Standing Committee.

The other six members of the top leadership of the Party's central leading organ are Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.

They were elected at the first plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee following the CPC's 18th National Congress. Their election marked a smooth top leadership transition following the 16th national congresses of the Party in 2002.

The smooth transition suggests that the Party is moving steadily towards an established norm regarding the handing over of power, which will be crucial for sustained stability and development of the country, analysts observed.

"The new leaders are not ossified or conservative. Their election will ensure that China will continue with both reforms and the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, as they have witnessed, participated in and benefited from reform and opening-up," said Xie Chuntao, a professor of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

The leaders made their debut upon their election at the Great Hall of the People under the spotlight of hundreds of reporters from across the world.

Xi said they will take "the relay baton passed on to us by history" and make continued efforts to achieve the renewal of the Chinese nation.

"We will rally and lead the whole Party and the people in making continued efforts to free our minds, carry out reform and open up," Xi said.

Xi noted that the Party faces many severe challenges and that there are many pressing problems within the Party, citing corruption, a separation from the people and bureaucracy.

Amid global economic uncertainties and domestic complaints over the wealth gap, corruption and environmental woes with rising calls for deepened reform, analysts said China will face more challenges in the years to come.

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