BEIJING — The 18th congress of the Communist Party in China wrapped up this week with President Hu Jintao stepping down as party general secretary to make way for Xi Jinping, his long-ago-anointed heir. Here are profiles of the seven leaders named to the Standing Committee of the Politburo.
Xi Jinping, 59, grew up in privilege, was plunged into poverty when his parents fell out of favor during the Cultural Revolution and then methodically climbed his way back to his current post: general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. In March, he will become China’s president. He has served as party secretary in Shanghai, Fujian and Zhejiang, provinces larger than most European countries.
A large, lumbering man, Xi is a more personable figure than outgoing President Hu Jintao, according to people who know them both. “He doesn’t give off airs of a high official with the pomp and circumstance. He is more comfortable in his own skin,” said a businessman who knows the two.
Li Keqiang, the presumptive premier, is one of the few Chinese leaders who speak passable English, which he reportedly taught himself by carrying around index cards. Unlike many of his fellow Standing Committee members, Li has a modest background; his father was a local official in the rural province of Anhui.
Li, 57, has a bachelor’s in law and a doctorate in economics from Peking University.
During his tenure as governor of Henan province, he faced a scandal involving contaminated blood that resulted in the rapid spread of AIDS, but his stewardship of the economy helped him win promotion to party boss in Liaoning province.
Known as an iron-fisted enforcer, Zhang Dejiang speaks Korean and studied economics at North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University.
After the charismatic Bo Xilai was removed as party secretary of Chongqing this year amid a scandal involving murder and corruption, Zhang was sent to the metropolis of 30 million to restore stability and project an air of calm and order.