China’s Communist Party announced the makeup of the new Politburo Standing Committee today. The panel, which was reduced to seven members from nine, is the most powerful decision-making body in China.
Xi Jinping, 59, was named general secretary of the 82-million member Communist Party and is set to take over the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, from Hu Jintao in March. He served in top positions in prosperous coastal regions, including Fujian, Zhejiang and Shanghai, from 1985 through 2007, winning praise for his pro-market policies. Since returning to Beijing, Xi has also headed the Communist Party’s main cadre training school, where he makes speeches laced with references to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. A visit to the U.S. in February took him back to Muscatine, Iowa, where he spent time in 1985 studying farming techniques. The son of one of the revolutionary founders of the Communist state, he is married to Peng Liyuan, a popular Chinese folksinger. Their only daughter is an undergraduate at Harvard University.