Top leaders agree on posts ahead of China congress
BEIJING (AP) — China's top leaders circulated a list of future government officeholders who will be appointed at the annual legislative session that starts next week and completes a once-a-decade leadership transition in the world's most populous nation.
A draft of an administrative reform plan to be discussed at next week's National People's Congress session was also distributed at Thursday's meeting of the ruling Communist Party's Central Committee, which includes the country's top 200 officials.
March's annual NPC meeting — the highlight of China's political calendar — will see new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping appointed as state president for the first of an expected two five-year terms.
Others to be appointed next week include the head of the NPC and its advisory body, the head of the supreme court and top prosecutor, and government ministers, including those responsible for overseeing fiscal policy and commerce. Urbanization, emission cuts and improved public services are also expected to be among the themes of the session.
"We should deeply promote the separation between government administration and corporation management and build a government with a nature of service that is ... highly effective and loved by people," said a communique issued at the close of the Central Committee meeting chaired by Xi, who rose to the party's top spot at its national congress in November.
While the NPC session is largely an afterthought to the party congress, observers have been closely scrutinizing it for indications that Xi plans to lead China in a new direction. So far, there have been few such signs, with the 59-year-old career party official hewing to his predecessors' stance of promoting rapid economic development while maintaining rigid one-party political control.
China's top leaders are almost all drawn from among the most experienced and politically reliable of the party's more than 82 million members. While NPC members are allowed to vote to approve leading appointments, they are given a choice of candidates and no open hearings are held.
China credits its system with maintaining order and economic growth, although liberal scholars and civic activists say slowing growth and increasing anti-government protests may make the system untenable. Government expenditure on domestic security already outstrips the national defense budget, and huge swathes of restive western China that are home to the Tibetan and Uighur minorities are under lockdown.