The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hu in reforms vow

Beijing, Nov. 15: China’s new leader Hu Jintao assured the world today that the country’s commitment to opening up its economy will remain unchanged in the new regime he will preside over.

Hu and his team presented themselves to the international media at a simple ceremony here this morning.

He was elected the new general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party at the first plenum of the new central committee earlier today and becomes the country’s next president at the session of the People’s Congress (parliament) next March.

Once again proving some western China pundits wrong, Hu addressed the media — without, however, taking questions.

The custom so far was for the new topmost leaders — the members of the standing committee of the politburo — to walk into the Grand Eastern Room of the Hall of the People after their election by the central committee, pose for pictures and leave the podium without speaking.

In the small podium decked with autumn flowers, Hu and eight other members of the new standing committee stood for nearly half an hour, a large painting of the Great Wall providing the backdrop, a typical Ming-dynasty flower vase at the opposite wall and ornate chandeliers reflecting the lights.

“The world is curious to know what China’s new leaders will do,” Hu read from a prepared speech.

“I want to say clearly that our policies have been stated in unambiguous terms in the political report of the Congress.

The Three Represents, along with Marxism and the thoughts of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, will be our guideline for a long time to come.”

There was one change, though, from the previous standing committee — the number this time is nine, Hu included, compared to Jiang Zemin’s seven.

But the most important change, which Hu himself hinted and many analysts predicted, is that it is now time for collective leadership. China seems to have finally passed the age of one-man leadership.

One thing, however, didn’t change.

True to tradition, there is no woman even this time among the topmost leaders.

In its 80-year history, the Chinese Communist Party never had one on the standing committee. Gender reforms in the party have to wait longer.

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