China wraps up session to install new leadership

March 16, 2013

China’s new leader Xi Jinping pledged a cleaner, more efficient government Sunday as the country’s ceremonial legislature wrapped up a pivotal session that installed the latest generation of communist leaders in a once-a-decade transfer of power.

The new leadership has stressed it will make a priority of social spending and other measures to spread prosperity more evenly and narrow a politically volatile gap between China’s wealthy elite and poor majority, as well combat endemic corruption.

“In [the] face of the mighty trend of the times and earnest expectations of the people for a better life, we cannot have the slightest complacency, or get the slightest slack at work,” Xi told the nearly 3,000 delegates at the congress’s closing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.

“We must resolutely reject formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance, and resolutely fight against corruption and other misconduct in all manifestations,” Xi said.

Xi, already the country’s overall leader since being named Communist Party general secretary in November, was installed as president during the 13-day session ending Sunday, and the party’s No. 2 leader, Li Keqiang, was named premier.

On Saturday, the rubber-stamp National People’s Congress endorsed the leadership’s slate of veteran technocrats — many with strong international experience — to staff a cabinet charged with overhauling a slowing economy and pursuing a higher global profile for the country without triggering opposition.

The new team takes charge at a time of difficult transitions. With the economic model that brought decades of high growth sputtering, the government is looking to transform the world’s second-largest economy by nurturing self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption and technology industries instead of labor-intensive exports and investment.

A more assertive foreign policy, cyber-hacking and years of scouring the world for resources have touched off nervousness among China’s neighbors and the United States and set off a small but potentially threatening backlash against Chinese investment in Africa and Latin America.

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