BEIJING Xi Jinping succeeded Hu Jintao as China’s leader Thursday, assuming the top posts in the Communist Party and the powerful military in a once-a-decade political transition unbowed by scandals, a slower economy and public demands for political changes.
Xi was formally appointed as general secretary after a meeting of senior Communists that capped a week-long congress, events that underlined the party’s determination to remain firmly in power. Xi also was appointed chairman of the military commission after Hu stepped down, breaking with the recent tradition in which departing party leaders hung on to the military post to exert influence over their successors.
The moves give Xi a freer hand to consolidate his authority as first among equals in the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power. Immediately after the announcements, Xi strode onto a stage in the Great Hall of the People, leading the six other newly appointed committee members, all conservative technocrats dressed in dark suits.
“We shall do everything we can to live up to your trust and fulfill our mission,” Xi, 59, said in remarks that were broadcast on state television and worldwide.
Standing beside him were Li Keqiang, the presumptive premier and chief economic official; Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang; Shanghai party secretary Yu Zhengsheng; propaganda chief Liu Yunshan; Tianjin party secretary Zhang Gaoli; and Vice Premier Wang Qishan, once the leadership’s top troubleshooter, who was named Thursday to head the party’s internal watchdog panel.