18th Party Congress
The Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, held in Beijing November 8-14, 2012, marked a key power transition in China. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao. The Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in number from nine to seven. Unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao handed over both the Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission positions to Xi.
Wen Jiabao determined to bow out fighting
Analysts question premier's motives as he urges successors to revive long-stalled efforts to develop democracy and promote the rule of law
Premier Wen Jiabao has made a final push for political reform before giving up his party leadership post, urging his successors to revive long-stalled efforts to develop democracy and promote the rule of law.
"[The party] should make a particular effort to promote the reform of the leadership system of the party and the country, develop democracy, optimise the legal system and realise the rule of law," Wen told the Tianjin delegation at the 18th party congress on Thursday, which Xinhua reported yesterday.
The premier listed political reform, anti-corruption efforts and improving the people's livelihood as the three most critical issues facing the country. He said incoming party leaders would have to deal with them all in the next five years and beyond.
"China faces quite a lot of problems, especially the arduous tasks of reform and development," Wen said. "But I think the issues I mentioned are of great significance and pressing."
Wen, like with President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders, is to step down from party leadership next week and relinquish his government office in March. In the past few years, he has become a lonely voice among the Communist Party leadership, embracing more liberal and universal values such as human rights and democracy.
Observers wonder if he is cultivating his image or playing a role to balance the party's conservative image.
In Thursday's report to the party congress, Hu set the tone for the country's development in the coming decade, one that embraced economic reform but cautioned against any attempt "to abandon socialism and take an erroneous path".
Political analyst Zhang Lifan , said Wen's remarks at the congress suggested that the retiring leader had not given up his effort to push for China's democratic development despite his looming exit from office.
"He is making his final effort, before his full retirement in March, in the hope that he can make some impact on the public as well as on the incoming leaders," said Zhang, who was formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
But Liu Kang, a professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Duke University, said Wen was trying to polish his own image, following a damaging report by The New York Times last month claiming the premier's extended family had amassed a fortune worth at least US$2.7 billion.
"He has talked a lot, but done nothing in this regard during his 10-year tenure," Liu said.
At the panel discussion, Wen also warned that repercussions from the global financial crisis could linger for a few years. To avoid unstable, imbalanced and unsustainable economic development, China must maintain brisk and steady growth and reform its economic policies, he said.
Wen said his cabinet's immediate tasks were to stabilise the economy and formulate reform on income distribution and compensation for expropriated rural land.