Xi Jinping was named China’s president yesterday by the country’s parliament, one of the final steps in China’s once-in-a-decade leadership change, CNN reports. Four months after taking over as General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi replaces outgoing leader Hu Jintao after a formal vote of about 3,000 deputies at the National People’s Congress (NPC). The vote, largely a rubber stamp that completes the highly choreographed leadership transition, was unanimous. Li Keqiang will become premier, replacing Wen Jiabao who stands aside as part of the leadership overhaul, which will see the traditionally nine-member Politburo Standing Committee shrink to seven. Xi was also named chairman of the state Central Military Commission. Since the congress convened March 5, thousands of Chinese officials have held a series of meetings to discuss the structure of state departments and future targets.
The NPC concludes Sunday. On the first day, Wen announced the country was aiming for an annual growth rate this year of 7.5pc. Efforts would be made to keep consumer price inflation at around 3.5pc. And, nine million new jobs would be created with the intention of keeping urban unemployment at no more than 4.6pc.During the NPC, it was announced Beijing would strengthen the powers of the State Food and Drug Administration in the wake of widespread health concerns over food safety, such as tainted milk and baby formula scandals, according to Xinhua. The issue of water quality also became clear during the congress, with the discovery of nearly 6,000 pigs in a Shanghai river, raising local concerns about the safety of the city’s drinking water. This winter has seen its worst pollution in living memory, angering a population already jaded by a series of high-profile corruption scandals – including the downfall of the once high-flying politician Bo Xilai – that have tainted the reputation of the party.In a speech published by the People’s Daily earlier this month, Xi warned that China faced many risks and challenges, saying that the party’s future was at stake.