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Talk of Beijing: Who After Deng?

Appointments to China's Politburo balance economic reformists against hard-liners. NEW LEADERSHIP

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AS a revamped Communist leadership took charge yesterday, China still wondered who will succeed paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

In a rare appearance that underscored his political strength and physical vulnerability, a frail Mr. Deng slowly circulated among applauding delegates at the Communist Party's 14th congress, leaning heavily on his daughter's arm.

The visit of China's most powerful man to the Great Hall of the People came as Deng's political prescription for economic change and political control became the hallmark of the party summit; but Deng's health was the talk of China's capital.

"Now that the policies are decided upon, we'll get down to work and translate the spirit of the congress into reality," party chief Jiang Zemin was reported to have told Deng at the meeting.

Only hours before, the party unveiled an expanded slate of top leaders on the all-powerful Standing Committee of the policymaking Politburo. The Politburo was also overhauled as eight of the previous 14 members stepped aside and the body was enlarged to 20 members.

Although apparently favoring supporters of Deng's free-market overhaul of the Chinese economy, reformists were counterbalanced by conservatives, a move that mirrors the uneasy compromises struck during the party deliberations, analysts say. And no single leader emerged as strong enough to claim Deng's mantle.

On the Politburo, party leaders from areas that have been the engines of China's growth - including Guangdong and Shandong provinces and the port cities of Shanghai and Tianjin - joined the top ranks as a sign of growing decentralization within China, analysts said.

Renamed to head the inner circle was Jiang Zemin, the party's centrist general secretary who Chinese and foreign analysts say remains a weak but compromise choice within the party.


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