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New China leader to usher in 'renaissance'

Xi Jinping calls for efforts to realise Chinese dream in first speech as head of world's most populous nation.
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2013 12:08

Xi Jinping, China's new president, has said that he will try to usher in a "great renaissance", in his first speech as head of state of the world's most populous country.

Xi called for "arduous efforts for the continued realisation of the Chinese dream", in a speech on Sunday to delegates at the National People's Congress (NPC) parliament meeting in Beijing.

Calls for such a revival in the world's second-largest economy have been a motif of Xi's speeches since he took the top post in China's ruling Communist Party in November.

He has close ties to China's expanding military - the navy took delivery of its first aircraft carrier last year - and called for the armed forces to strengthen their ability to "win battles".

Beijing is embroiled in a territorial row with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, and with neighbouring nations over claims to the South China Sea.

Xi's 25-minute address stressed continuity with previous Chinese leaders, thanking outgoing president Hu Jintao, who stood and bowed as China completed the once-in-a-decade transition of its top leaders.

Xi also touched on corruption, which infuriates the public and he has called a threat to the party's grip on power, and urged delegates to "oppose hedonism and flamboyant lifestyles".

New premier

The speech formally brought the almost two-week long NPC meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People to a close, and was followed by China's new prime minister, Li Keqiang, stepping into spotlight for a rare news conference.

He took control of the day-to-day running of the government on Friday, a day after Xi was handed the title of president.

Li pledged to strengthen economic reforms, saying: "What the market can do, we should release more to the market, what society can do well, we should give to society. The government should be in charge of and manage well the issues that it ought to govern."

Increasing prosperity is a key part of the Communist Party's claim to a right to rule, and its consensus view is that China needs economic reform to maintain growth, while avoiding political changes which could threaten its grip on power, Li said.

The new premier handled the rare set-piece encounter with the foreign press - for which questions had to be submitted in advance - in a relaxed manner, smiling and occasionally joking with reporters.

He also pledged to fight corruption, saying that the government had an "unshakable resolve" to do so, adding: "Clean government should start with oneself. Since we have chosen public service we should give up all thought of making money."

China's leaders have come under fire in the past year after reports, suppressed within the country, that the families of top politicians - including Xi - have amassed huge wealth, but have kept their assets secret.

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Source:
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