Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for ‘objective reporting’ as some foreign media barred from Communist Party press conference

President points to key dates in the next five years as he introduces fellow members of the leading Politburo Standing Committee

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 3:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 11:30am

Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged from the Communist Party’s national congress with the new leadership line-up on Wednesday to insist that China did not want flattery from the media and he welcomed constructive suggestions.

Starting his second term as the party’s general secretary, Xi invited the media to report more about China, saying he did not ask for excessive praise, but “objective reporting”.

About 300 domestic and overseas journalists attended the meeting at the Great Hall of the People after receiving red invitation letters from the government.

However, several foreign news organisations had been barred, according to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China.

Xi also highlighted several key dates in the next five years, including the 40th anniversary of China’s open-door policy next year, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the people’s republic in 2019, and the party’s centenary in 2021. He also stressed that 2020 was the deadline by which the party aimed to have eliminated absolute poverty throughout the country.

Xi smiled throughout his 20-minute speech while his six comrades on the Politburo Standing Committee were mostly sombre as they were introduced one by one in order of rank – first Li Keqiang, who continues as premier, then the five new members: Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng.

The leaders then stepped forward, nodded to the crowd and stepped back.

It was a marked departure in tome from 2012, when the new Standing Committee members, also led by Xi, waved to reporters as they walked in.

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Wang Huning, a veteran communist theorist who is tipped to be in charge of propaganda work, looked especially cautious. Relatively small in stature, Wang kept his head low and only nodded once after his name was called.

And Premier Li Keqiang, who was smiling and waving when he walked into the same room five years ago, refrained from showing his emotions after keeping his seat on the Standing Committee.

Besides Xi, the only one who looked upbeat was Li Zhanshu, the president’s right-hand man, who is tipped to oversee China’s parliament.

Seven red marks had been placed on the stage to show the leaders where they should stand: a star-shaped one for Xi, and six round ones for the rest.

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Journalists were forbidden from taking photos of the marks, which traditionally serve as the first confirmation of the size of the Politburo Standing Committee.

Outside of the hall, Chinese investors reacted to the announcement by pouring money into a company carrying the same name as one of the new leaders.

The share price of the Hangzhou Huning Elevator company – which has no other connection to the politician – traded at the daily upper limit of 10 per cent on Wednesday after Wang Huning’s promotion was confirmed.