The annual meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee in Beijing has nominated Xi Jinping to the post of vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.
China's President Hu Jintao, on the left, talks to his likely successor Xi Jinping
According to China’s state news agency Xinhua Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping has been appointed to the Central Military Commission at the plenary session attended by the 370 party members on Monday. With this nomination he follows in the footsteps of President Hu Jintao, whom he is likely to succeed.
China ranks second in the world in arms spending
The Central Military Commission is one of the most powerful institutions within the Chinese political system. It is also the stepping stone to the country’s presidency. The commission controls the People’s Liberation Army with an estimated troop level of over two million. The armed forces have an annual budget of approximately 80 billion US dollars - the second highest in the world.
Rise of Xi Jinping
Many analysts regard this as another indication that Xi Jinping will take over Hu’s party post as chairman next year. Hu will have to step down from running the Communist Party in late 2012 and from the presidency in early 2013.
Xi became the party chief of a village at the age of 21. He governed the eastern province of Zhejiang for five years and was responsible for the preparations of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Since October 2007, he has been one of the nine members of the Standing Committee of the party’s Politburo. The 57-year-old is the son of former top party member Xi Zhongxun.
Reformist or technocrat?
Xi’s father helped to develop China’s Special Economic Zones in the mid 1980s and opposed the student protest crackdown on Tiananmen Square. Based on his father’s liberalism, some analysts have speculated that, once he takes power, Xi could gradually introduce legal and democratic reforms.
But Xi Jinping seems more of a technocrat than a reformist. Some observers argue that Xi is a bureaucrat who won his promotion by anticipating the wishes of the party’s elder generation of leaders. He is also seen as close to former President Jiang Zemin.
China is trying to boost domestic consumption
New five-year economic plan
With the current five-year economic plan ending in December, the Central Committee has also drawn up a new economic blueprint for the period from 2011 to 2015. "China will further boost people's incomes," while at the same time improving rural social security, the Central Committee said in a statement issued via the state media. China has tried to foster domestic demand recently in order to become more independent from its exports.
The Chinese leadership also stated that the next five years would be "a time of difficult issues for deepening the reform and opening process". They also stressed that the Communist Party would be the "fundamental guarantee" for the nation’s future.
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein