China's Communist Party has elected Vice-President Xi Jinping as its new General Secretary, and a new generation of leaders who will rule the country in the next decade.
Possessing a clean image among Communist Party ranks, he replaces Hu Jintao as party chief, under whose decade-old administration China has grown as the world's second largest economy.
The 59-year-old leader has also been elected as Chairman of the Military Commission, which controls one of the world's most powerful militaries.
The Party Congress also elected seven members of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee who will form China's new collective leadership.
Addressing the media, Xi said the new leaders had great responsibilities, their mission was to be united, and to lead the party and the people to make China stronger and more powerful.
On behalf of the new leadership, Xi vowed to fight for people's desire for better life, and called for an end to corruption, and better party discipline.
He called upon the whole party to "stay on full alert" to make every effort to solve "many severe challenges" the party faces.
In his speech, Xi mentioned carrying out reforms and opening up, and working for the people of all ethnic groups in China. He wrapped up by saying that "China needs to learn more about the world. The world also needs to learn more about China."
Son of communist veteran Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping rose as paramount leader of the People's Republic of China, working from grass root levels of the party. During a political career spanning almost four decades, Xi held top posts in Shanghai, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. Known for his tough and straightforward stance against corrupt officials, Xi is a proponent of free market economy.
The critical moment the world has been waiting for some time came on Thursday morning, when the new leaders filed onto the stage in Beijing's Great Hall of the People in order of seniority.
Xi Jinping was followed by Li Keqiang, the favorite of outgoing leader Hu Jintao. Seen as the number two in party leadership, he rose from a farm laborer, just like Xi. He is expected to become the Prime Minister when Xi will take over as President from Hu in March.
Third in the line was Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, who replaced disgraced party chief of Chongqing Bo Xilai, cementing his reputation as a trouble-shooter.
Then came Shanghai party secretary Yu Zhengsheng, considered a "princeling" with close ties to former President Deng Xiaoping.
No. 5 is Liu Yunshan, who is the head of the party's propaganda department.
Next in line was another Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, who is well known to Western leaders as a key figure in discussions about the global economy. He was also elected head of CPC anti-graft commission.
Zhang Gaoli, a close ally of former leader Jiang Zemin and party secretary of Tianjin, completes the line-up.
Women's representation in the 25-member Politburo rose to two with Sun Chunlan joining Liu Yandong.
The new leadership, which will be keenly watched for signs of China's future direction, was unveiled a day after the week-long 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded in Beijing, with the election of a new CPC Central Committee and a new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Delegates to the Congress also passed resolutions on the report of the 17th CPC Central Committee, the work report of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and an amendment to the CPC Constitution, Chinese state news agency reported.
The change at the helm of affairs comes at a time China is set to lay a solid footing to sustain growth and restore confidence on the economic outlook.
Once in a decade leadership change in the wold's largest Communist nation with a party membership of more than 80 million brought no surprises, as Xi Jinping was reportedly the heir apparent as early as the run-up to the 18th Party Congress.
Chinese power transition comes exactly a week after the United States presidential election sealed continuity of the Obama administration.
by RTT Staff Writer
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