By Patrick Corby
Xi Jinping has replaced his father, Hu Jintao, as the new President of China after being formally elected by the Chinese parliament.
The 59-year-old was elected head of the Central Military Commission, a position that consolidates the Presidency with real power in China as of November.
Xi Jinping now has all three titles held by Hu and complete control of the Communist Party, state and armed forces.
This completes the Chinese ceremonial election and the second peaceful political transition since the Communist Party took control in 1949. Xi Jinping drew 2,952 delegates, of whom three were absent and one was a no vote.
Xi’s father Hu ascended to presidency a decade ago in China in the first peaceful political transition since the country adopted Communism as their economic system.
Other transitions have been littered with events such as the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square events or the Cultural Revolution.
Since taking office in November, Xi has focused on surface problems facing China such as reducing corruption and cleaning the environment in the centralised economy.
“I come from Shanghai, where there are 6,000 dead pigs floating in the river. It speaks to how fragile the ecological environment is,” said Yan Chengzhong, a delegate to the legislature.
But many feel these problems should at the bottom of Xi’s list; at the top should be the slowdown in economic growth owing to China’s centralised export led strategy which has felt the US and EU pull away in recent years.
With this comes tensions with mounting US debt, most of which China holds, as well as the increasing local state debt the country is building and a run-away housing bubble that has could rapidly pull on the world’s second largest economy.
Politics have also tightened in regard to China in North Korea, South-West Asia and Japan in recent years, making China now focus on its foreign affairs “soft position” – a strategy that is being led by Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan.
Zhang Ming, a China politics expert at the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing, said: “At present, the party and the government have very little public credibility,” and that “the way to regain credibility is to at least show some results, but at this point that can’t be seen and I predict there won’t be any real results later.”
I also write for The Upcoming, which you can read here.