As Xi Jinping, 59, and Li Keqiang, 57, will take over, market-driven reforms are anticipated to intensify in China. The majority of the Party and the Chinese people support these reforms. Like President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, Xi and Li will hope to support the market forces and to bridge income polarization caused by the rapid growth of the past decade.
Xi's father Xi Zhongxun was a reform-minded Communist leader who was purged during the Cultural Revolution. Restored by Deng Xiaoping, he became the governor of Guangdong where he contributed to the pioneering economic reforms of Shenzhen in the 1980s.
Xi is a strong consensus leader who has been promoted by the Shanghai faction of the Party, known for its market-driven focus, and former President Jiang Zemin. But he is also supported by Hu Jintao and Communist Youth League (CYL). Like many other CYL communist leaders, Hu worked in the poorer provinces and regards not just growth but equity as China's paramount challenge in the future.
In the next few months, Xi is likely to develop his distinctive policy platform. These policies will focus on structural reforms economically, continued top-down democratization politically, and China's rising global clout internationally.
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In an important speech in the Central Party School in March, Xi emphasized the need for the collective responsibility, which he defined as the absence of individual interests among the party members. In the Xi era, the struggle against corruption and private moral hazards may well move to a new level.
Unlike Xi, Li Keqiang is more likely to get his full official mandate next March. President Hu's protégé represents a balancing force, who is likely to follow in the footprints of his precursor Wen Jiabao and focus on equity.
As the new premier, Li will be tested by housing policy. While property markets will continue to play a vital role in the growth of the urbanizing China, Li should both reduce market speculation and oversee the production of 36,000 affordable housing units for ordinary Chinese.
Since the challenges of housing policy require a strong politician, some expected the premier to be the hands-on Wang Qishan, 64, the former mayor of Beijing who has been in charge of the economic track of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).
Some observers expect Wang to become the chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).However, if it is true that he is to become China's next economic tsar as executive vice-premier and will be given the job of party discipline chief, he could play a vital role as the guardian of party discipline.
In the past few months, anticipation has steadily climbed in Beijing as the old Standing Committee of the Politburo will be replaced by the new one.
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Among the rising stars is Wang Yang, 57, former chief of Chongqing and current party chief of Guangdong, where he has supported both market forces and political reforms, while intensifying anti-corruption struggle. However, the chances of a younger generation of liberal reformers may have been affected by an intense internal debate, the Bo Xilai debacle, U.S. rebalancing in the region, and the deteriorating international economic environment. These forces favor tough veteran leaders and solid performers.
After the insulation of Bo Xilai in Chongqing, Zhang Dejiang, 65, took over his position in the megacity. Similarly, the new status quo may favor Liu Yunshan, 65, the director of the Party's propaganda since 2002, as well as Yu Zhengsheng, 67, the party leader of Shanghai, and Tianjin's "talk less, do more" party chief Zhang Gaoli, 65.
In turn, Liu Yandong, 67, is approaching retirement, but could be promoted as the first female party leader. Li Yuanchao, 62, created his career as the reformer of Jiangsu. Despite his low profile, he has significantly contributed to the internal promotion process in the Party.
The chief of staff Fang Fenghui is another protégé of President Hu. Shaanxi Party secretary Zhao Leji may have an important role heading the personnel transition.
Overall, the leadership transition is driven by a huge turnover. More than 60% at the top of Beijing will be replaced by a younger generation. As big boomers march into the Chinese leadership, governance will grow more professional, more diversified and international.