China’s leadership transition: ready to drive the clean revolution

Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 2 minutes
15 March 2013

BEIJING: China has formally appointed Li Keqiang as Premier and Xi Jinping as President, as the country’s leadership transition reaches its conclusion this week.

English-speaking law graduate Li Kequiang, replaces Wen Jiabao as Premier. Li was elected for a five-year term, but is expected to spend the next decade in office. 

Li Keqiang, who holds a law degree and PhD in Economics and was widely quoted in the media after the 18th Party Congress stating that if GDP growth alone cannot drive up people’s incomes, then it is nothing but a 'self-sung achievement'.

Alongside Li, Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao as President of the People’s Republic of China. While Li Kequiang now heads the China State Council, the cabinet that deals with implementing policy and running the economy, Xi Jinping is China’s top leader.

The leadership change completes a process which began in November, when the top positions were first selected. The political transition will end this weekend with the appointment of Cabinet officials and a press conference on Sunday.

Both leaders have indicated that one of their top priorities will be to address the heavy pollution of China’s cities and ecosystem security of its economic growth. Their pledges were outlined in a report delivered by Wen Jiabao at the opening of the session last week.

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group: "With the new leadership ushered in, China enters a new era of clean revolution. The new leadership takes over a baton from their predecessors that puts sustainability at the very center of the country's growth strategy. Daunting challenges like pollution, resource constraints, energy and climate security require the new leaders to appreciate the ecosystem goods and services and design a deeper clean revolution that would respect the limits of growth in the context of the ecosystems' carrying capacity.

"I am delighted to see that the clean revolution has become a most critical issue for the new leaders to tackle in order to have the legitimacy to govern the world's most populous country. And I also believe that Chinese leaders will more proactively reach out to the global community to convene and seek consensus to lead a global clean revolution."

By Clare Saxon

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