BEIJING – China's once-in-a-decade power transition crested Thursday with 59-year-old Xi Jinping taking over as the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party. He will be assisted by six technocrats in the Standing Committee, the apex of power in China. Here are the new leaders in order of how they were presented at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
Xi Jinping: The new party leader is seen as a pro-market reformer and a staunch believer in party power. The son of a veteran revolutionary, Xi spent much of his career in economically vibrant provinces. Little known abroad, Xi took a side trip during a key visit to the U.S. this year to meet privately with the Iowans who had hosted him on a 1985 study tour when he was a mid-level provincial official in charge of the pork industry.
Li Keqiang: Expected to be the next premier, Li, 57, is a protege of outgoing President Hu Jintao. The two worked together in the Communist Youth League in the 1980s. Hu initially wanted Li to succeed him as party chief before accepting Xi. Li ran two important industrial provinces, and as vice-premier his portfolio includes health reforms, energy and food safety. Still, questions of inexperience on economy have dogged him as he prepares to take the post of premier, the top economy job in the country.
Zhang Dejiang: A vice premier who was called on to run the mega-city of Chongqing after the ouster of the ambitious but tainted Bo Xilai, Zhang is seen as a capable, low-key administrator. The son of a former army general, Zhang, 66, ran two economic powerhouse provinces and oversaw safety issues in recent years as a vice-premier. A Korean speaker, Zhang studied economics at North Korea's Kim Il Sung University and is an ally of party elder Jiang Zemin.
Yu Zhengsheng: Yu, 67, is a member of the red elite, but with a problematic family history. His brother, an official in the secret police, defected to the U.S. in the mid-1980s. Yu's pedigree helped salvage his career. His father was the ex-husband of a woman who later married Mao Zedong. A missile engineer by training, Yu has run the financial hub of Shanghai since 2007. His family connections to patriarch Deng Xiaoping kept his name in the running for promotion to the top leadership.
Liu Yunshan: As head of the party's Propaganda Department for the past 10 years, Liu has tightened controls over domestic media even as he encouraged big state media to expand overseas to purvey the government's line. Liu, 65, rose through the ranks in Inner Mongolia. He has a foot in each of two political camps. He started his career in the Youth League, outgoing President Hu Jintao's power base, but in the past decade also served a conservative ideology czar who was a staunch supporter of party elder Jiang.
Wang Qishan: A technocrat with deep experience in finance and trade issues, Wang, 64, is a vice premier and a top troubleshooter. Over his career, Wang cleaned up collapsed investment firms in southern China, calmed Beijing amid the SARS pneumonia scare and, more recently, fended off U.S. pressure over China's currency policies. Son-in-law of a now-deceased conservative state planner, Wang would bring added experience on economic policy.
Zhang Gaoli: A low-key technocrat who is said to adhere to the motto "Do more, speak less," Zhang, 66, has presided over the development boom in Tianjin and less successful efforts to turn the northern port city into a financial hub. Trained as an economist, Zhang rose through state oil-and-gas companies in the south before entering government service. He has served in a string of prosperous cities and provinces and is a protege of party elder Jiang.