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Xi Jinping takes China's reins. Will he promote political reform? (+video)

Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party, is considered to be reform-minded, but the party's new leadership team is dominated by change-wary conservatives.

BEIJING (AFP) - China unveils its new leaders, with Xi Jinping marching on stage at the head of a revamped line-up that will steer the world's number two economy for the next decade. Duration: 01:10
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There has been much talk in recent weeks – in the official Chinese media and on the tongues of top leaders – of the need for political reform in China.

However, there were few signs on Thursday that such words will mean much in reality anytime soon, as a new leadership team dominated by aging conservatives took over the reins.

As expected, Xi Jinping is the new head of the ruling Communist Party, seconded by the only other member of the last Politburo Standing Committee to be staying on, Li Keqiang. Both are in their 50s, and have reputations as cautious reformers.

But the five new members of the group that effectively rules China are all nearly a decade older than them, and most are seen as wary of change. 

“This is a very bad lineup and certainly dampens any hope of political reform,” says Zhang Jian, a professor of politics at Peking University. “I don’t expect much in the way of change from these men.”

China’s new rulers emerged from the Communist Party’s 18th Congress that ended Wednesday. They introduced themselves Thursday morning to the Chinese and international press, filing onto a stage in the Great Hall of the People and bowing in turn as Mr. Xi called their names. Mr. Li, appearing more relaxed than his colleagues, waved and smiled to the massed TV cameras, more like a Western politician. (Read more about who's who here)


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