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Xi Jinping addressing the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress in Beijing earlier today.
Xi Jinping addressing the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress in Beijing earlier today.
Image: Andy Wong/AP/Press Association Images

China's new president calls for 'great renaissance of Chinese nation'

Xi Jinping addressed the nation earlier today as China’s once-in-a-decade power change came to a conclusion.
Mar 17th 2013, 2:33 PM 4,294 13

CHINA’S NEW PRESIDENT Xi Jinping will fight for a “great renaissance of the Chinese nation”, he said earlier today as the world’s most populous country completed its once-in-a-decade power transition.

In his first speech as head of state, Xi called for “the continued realisation of the great renaissance of the Chinese nation and the Chinese dream”, laying out a vision of a stronger military and ever-higher living standards.

The 25-minute address closed a parliament meeting which named Xi as head of state and Li Keqiang as premier, four months after the pair took the top two posts in the ruling Communist Party – the real source of their power.

Both Xi and Li stuck to the party’s long-held consensus on the need for economic reforms to ensure growth, while increasing military power and avoiding political change that could threaten its grip on power.

Analysts said Xi’s concept of a “great renaissance” was a slogan designed to have broad appeal, without any firm commitments to specific reforms.

Xi has close ties to China’s expanding military – which put its first aircraft carrier into service last year – and he called for the armed forces to strengthen their ability to “win battles”.

Beijing is embroiled in a bitter territorial row with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, and with neighbouring nations over claims to the South China Sea. Tensions with the US have increased over reports of army-organised hacking.

Fight corruption

Newly appointed Premier Li Keqiang sought to play down such conflicts in a press conference, saying that Beijing would not “seek hegemony” as it became stronger and denying allegations that China engages in hacking.

Li called the accusations “groundless”, days after President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue. He said China’s relationship with Washington was vital and their mutual interests outweighed their differences.

“Conflicts between big powers are not inevitable,” Li said.

Li, now in charge of the day-to-day running of the government, said that “maintaining sustainable economic growth”, with an annual GDP increase of around 7.5 percent over the coming decade, would be his administration’s top priority.

Both leaders reiterated the party’s repeated pledges to fight corruption, with Li saying that the government had an “unshakable resolve” to do so.

“Since we have chosen public service we should give up all thought of making money,” the premier said.

Speaking in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi stressed continuity with previous Chinese leaders and thanked outgoing president Hu Jintao, who stood and bowed as China completed the transition of its top leaders.

Neither Xi nor Li mentioned systematic political reform.

But Li said China would release a plan for unspecified changes to its controversial “re-education” labour camp system, in which people can be incarcerated for up to four years without trial.

- © AFP, 2013

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