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Xi Jinping takes over Chinese leadership

BEIJING -- Xi Jinping became leader of China today, securing the Communist Party's top spot and oversight of the military in a political transition upset by scandals that have added fuel to public demands for change as the country faces slower economic growth.

Xi's elevation to party general secretary and chairman of the commission that oversees the People's Liberation Army was announced by Xinhua News Agency after a weeklong party congress that underlined the communists' determination to remain firmly in power.

Xi will lead a new seven-member collective leadership of technocrats: Li Keqiang, the presumptive premier; Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang; Shanghai party secretary Yu Zhengsheng; propaganda chief Liu Yunshan; Vice Premier Wang Qishan; and Tianjin party secretary Zhang Gaoli.

The new panel filed onto the stage at the Great Hall of the People, and Xi addressed the gathered reporters.

The son of a party elder, and vice president for the past five years, Xi will lead the world's No. 2 economy and newest diplomatic and military power amid increasingly vocal calls for economic and political reform, including from within the 82-million-member party itself.

At ease with colleagues, Xi takes over the party leadership from the stiff and technocratic Hu Jintao, and is expected to assume the presidency in March.

Still. the leadership is likely to be much like the old one: divided, deliberative and weak. Decisions are made largely by consensus, forcing Xi to bargain with colleagues who have their own power bases. Party elders, with Hu the newest, exert influence over major policies via their proteges, further constraining Xi.

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