Meet China's New Leadership

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Then-Vice President of China Xi Jinping waves to Thai students during a visit to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok on December 24, 2011.

The Chinese Community Party ushered in its new leadership on Wednesday following the party's 18th National Congress. Power quickly changed hands, as China’s new president, Xi Jinping, has taken over for Hu Jiantao.

Xi Jinping made his first public address on Thursday and extolled the Communist Party's historical leadership. "[The party] has rallied and led the people by stepping into the breach and making tenacious efforts to turn the poor and the backward old China into a new China, ever closer to the goal of national prosperity and strength," Jinping said. "The great renewal of the Chinese nation has thus embraced a bright prospect never seen before."

Elizabeth Economy, senior fellow and director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses China's new leadership.

"I think in many respects this was a fairly disappointing group that emerged out of what had been quite intense political jockeying leading up to the party Congress," Economy says. "The boldfaced reformers that were in contention, like Li Yuanchao and Wang Yang, in the end, didn't make it into this group of leaders."   

In five years, the oldest members of the polit-bureau will be forced to retire. This is mixed news — one of the most conservative member will have to retire, but perhaps the most knowledgeable and forward thinking member will have to leave as well.

"There is enormous social discontent in China," Economy says. "There's just enormous bottom-up pressure coming at the Chinese Communist Party, and I think they have very little idea about how to deal with it." 

"There were some humorous — well, not really humorous — but some editorials in the Chinese newspapers after the U.S. election talking about how long people had to wait in some states to vote," she says. "People were saying, yes, how long do the Chinese have to wait? 5,000 years to vote?"