China power brokers agree preferred leadership team
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China's three most powerful men have come up with preferred candidates to head up the nation's incoming new leadership team, sources said, in a ticket that includes financial reformers but leaves a question mark over its commitment to political reform.
The seven-member list has been drawn up by past, present and future presidents ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership change to be finalised next month at the ruling Communist Party's 18th congress, said three sources with ties to senior party leaders.
They said former President Jiang Zemin, current President Hu Jintao and Hu's likely successor, Xi Jinping, have forged a consensus on candidates for the top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee - a move that could pave the way for a smooth selection process after months of political tumult.
Their list - still subject to opposition and change by other party elders - envisages a Standing Committee cut to seven from nine and headed by Xi and Premier-designate Li Keqiang, 57, who is considered the only other certainty to make the top team.
A smaller committee would make it easier for Xi, 59, to establish his authority and push through badly needed reforms, the sources said. They noted that the preferred list would include Vice Premier Wang Qishan, 64, a darling of foreign investors who currently runs the finance portfolio.
However, the ticket omits one of the party's most outspoken political reformers, Wang Yang, 57, party boss of southern Guangdong province. A contender, he is viewed by many in the West as a beacon of political reform due to his relative tolerance of freer speech and grassroots civil rights.
Instead, the ticket includes Liu Yunshan, 65, the party's propaganda minister, who has kept domestic media on a tight leash and sought to control China's increasingly unruly Internet which has more than 500 million users.
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