China Borrows Bhutan's Idea Of Happiness But Not A Succession Plan

Till they marched in with President Xi Jinping, his core team was a secret - six members of China's most powerful political body - the Politburo Standing Committee Premier Li Keqiang was the only name that was a given. The rest, no one was sure.

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China Borrows Bhutan's Idea Of Happiness But Not A Succession Plan

Xi Jinping bows at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing (Reuters)

Kolkata:  President Xi Jinping publicly announced he had been elected general secretary of China's Communist Party for the second time, named his core team of six others and set targets for all of them - moderate prosperity for all by 2020 and, a la Bhutan perhaps, happiness.

One task was seemingly left in limbo - putting a potential heir or two in place, an omission that could signal the concentration of power in the hands of Mr Jinping or simply strict adherence to rules about seniority. The two men who are potential successors are much junior to those now at the helm.

Till they marched in with President Xi Jinping, his core team was a secret - six members of China's most powerful political body - the Politburo Standing Committee Premier Li Keqiang was the only name that was a given. The rest, no one was sure. 
  • Li Zhanshu, Director, General Office of CPC and Mr Xi's Chief of Staff  
  • Wang Yang, Chongqing, Guandong party secretary and led poverty reduction group
  • Wang Huning, director of CC's policy research office, highest-ranked scholar turned leader
  • Zhao Leji, new anti-corruption chief Committee of Discipline Inspection
  • Han Zheng, economist and ex-mayor Shanghai 

Their task is all set the next five years - reform, open up, ensure moderate prosperity for all by 2020 and kuai le -- Mandarin for happiness.

"We will make determined efforts to comprehensively deepen reform and open China wider to the world. We will make sure the reform and expansion complement and reinforce each other. It is my conviction that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will become a reality in the course of reform and expansion," Mr Jinping said. 

"We must remain committed to a people-centred philosophy of development and strive to ensure and improve living standards, and make steady progress towards enhancing our people's sense of fulfillment and happiness and security and realizing common prosperity for everyone," he added. 

Targets set but no heir. Usually, some leaders in their 50s are included but Mr Jinping's chosen six are all in their 60s and by the time the next Congress of the Communist Party of China comes along in five years, they will all be hit by the party's unwritten retirement age of 68. Mr Jinping too. 

But analysts calling him "Chairman of Everything" suggest he may become "Chairman of Forever" too. Two names were doing the rounds for inclusion into the PSC - 54-year-old Hu Chunhua, party chief of Guandong province, and 57-year-old Chen Miner, party head of Chongqing city. But it did not happen.  

In another departure, Mr Jinping invited the media to discover China for themselves.

"As the saying goes, it is better to see once than to hear a hundred times. We encourage members of the press to visit and see more of China," Mr Jinping said, adding, "We do not need lavish praise from others. However, we do welcome objective reporting and constructive suggestions. For this is our motto. Not angling for compliments, I would be content that my integrity fill the universe."

Several western media groups were excluded from Mr Jinping's press meet - BBC, Financial Times, Economist, New York Times and the Guardian, Guardian reported. 

Reform and opening up, at least for now, reserved for the economy. No place, Mr Jinping said, for any virus that erodes the party's fabric. And, perhaps, the country's.

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