New Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping said yesterday he would seek a "stable and solid" opening year for his administration at a New Year's Day gathering of current and former party leaders, top political advisers and representatives of major social groups.
Sending new year greetings for the first time as party leader, Xi, 59, also pledged to maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau.
The president-in-waiting, the son of a communist revolutionary general who was a comrade of Mao Zedong , quoted from a poem by Mao praising progress over recent decades in what appeared to be an attempt to please his predecessors and party conservatives.
The other six members of the party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee, including premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang , and leaders who will step down in March, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao , attended the tea party held by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body.
In a speech, Xi said his administration would seek "progress while maintaining stability, seek exploration and innovation, and achieve a solid beginning of the year".
"The year of 2013 is the first year of comprehensively implementing and realising the spirit of the 18th party congress," he said.
Zhang Lifan , a political affairs analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said consolidating power was the top priority of any new leader, and this required political stability.
But Xi was also under pressure to take quick action and achieve policy breakthroughs in dealing with urgent issues.
"There's a contradiction between seeking stability and achieving breakthroughs, and Xi Jinping is trying to seek a balance between them," Zhang said.
Meanwhile, in a Politburo study session on Monday, Xi called for more political courage and wisdom to deepen reform, while also touching on the relationship between reform and stability.
"Opening up and reform must be conducted based on a premise of stability," Xinhua's translation quoted Xi as saying.
Xi also said "a bugle call for a battle to complete the building of a relatively prosperous society has been sounded".
A keynote policy document released at November's party congress set doubling gross domestic product and the per capita income of mainlanders by 2020 as the criteria for achieving a "relatively prosperous society".
Xi was made party chief and head of the military after the party congress. He succeeds Hu as president in March, becoming the core of the fifth generation of communist leaders after Mao, Deng Xiaoping , Jiang Zemin and Hu.