Xi Jinping, left, and Hu Jintao pose for photos during a meeting with the representatives to the 18th National Congress, Nov. 15. (Photo/Xinhua)
In an unusual twist to China's leadership transition, Xi Jinping took over both the post of Party chief and the top military post of the Communist Party of China from Hu Jintao on Thursday.
Xi, now general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CPC's Central Military Commission, completed an official handover of the Party's top military post at an extended meeting of the CMC held on Friday. Xi said at the meeting that Hu voluntarily asked for not serving the posts of the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CMC.
Xi became CPC Central Committee General Secretary and Chairman of the CMC on Thursday at the first plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
"Chairman Hu's important decision fully embodies his profound thinking of the overall development of the Party, country and military," Xi said at the meeting.
"The decision also embodies his exemplary conduct and nobility of character," Xi said, adding that Hu has "pushed China's military development one giant step forward based on achievements made under the leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong, Chairman Deng Xiaoping and Chairman Jiang Zemin."
Hu, in return, described his successor as "a qualified general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and a qualified chairman of the Central Military Commission."
"Xi worked for a while in the military when he was young and participated in military-related work when he served in local administrations," Hu noted.
"The CPC Central Committee's appointment of comrade Xi Jinping as the CMC chairman is very appropriate, and he will absolutely be able to shoulder great responsibilities while uniting and leading the commission to fulfill the great historic missions," Hu said.
Hu said the appointment "realized the succession and transition of the Party's general secretary and the CMC chairman, which benefits the long-term development of China's armed forces and the country's long-term stability."
Li Cheng, director of research at the John Thomton China Center of the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said that "Hu Jintao set a great example for a more institutionalized political succession."
"Hu's move significantly contributes to a sound party-state-army relationship in China," said Li.
Hu Jintao became general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in 2002. He succeeded Jiang Zemin as the CMC Chairman two years later in September 2004.
Hu's surprising move ended longtime guessing and speculation from overseas media about whether he will do so, and made him the first leader in the CPC's history to pass both the Party chief and top military post to a successor.
XI'S EARLY AGE IN THE MILITARY
Xi, 59, was recruited by the CMC's general office and became a secretary from 1979 to 1982 just after he graduated from Tsinghua University. Xi's official biography especially noted that he was in active service on his first job.
In his following political career as local Party chief, Xi frequently held a concurrent post of the chief political officer for local organizations of the People's Liberation Army.
He served as the first political commissar and first secretary of the Party committee of people's armed forces department of Zhengding County, Hebei Province, from 1983 to 1985 when he was the secretary of the county's Party committee.
Xi later served as the first secretary of the sub-military area commands' Party committees of Ningde and Fuzhou, both in Fujian Province, from 1988 to 1993.
Xi was the first political commissar of the anti-aircraft artillery reserve division of southeast Fujian province from 1996 to 1999 when he was deputy secretary of the CPC's committee in Fujian.
Xi also held the post of deputy director of the national defense mobilization commission of the PLA's Nanjing Military Area Command from 1999 to 2003.
When he served as the Party chief of China's largest city Shanghai in 2007, he also held the first secretary of the Party committee of the PLA's Shanghai Garrison.
Xi was appointed vice chairman of the CMC in October 2010, three years after he entered the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, the Party's top decision-making body.
NEW ORDER FROM NEW COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
Xi is now the new commander-in-chief of the world's largest armed forces by manpower, the 2.3-million strong PLA.
Like all other CMC chairmen before, Xi especially stressed the CPC's absolute leadership over the military and the armed forces' absolute loyalty to the Party.
"The military must promote and appoint cadres based on their political performance and guarantee that 'guns' are always controlled by reliable people with loyalty to the Party," Xi said.
The new commander-in-chief ordered the military to always put the country's sovereignty and security first, comprehensively improve the military's deterrent power and capability of real combat to protect China's sovereignty, security and development interests at an information-based age.
Xi also pledged to enhance anti-corruption efforts within the armed forces, calling on senior military officers to take the lead in obeying rules and regulations for self-discipline.
At another meeting also held by the CMC on Friday, Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang, vice chairmen of the CPC Central Military Commission, vowed to keep absolute loyalty to the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and Chairman Xi.
The meeting was attended by the members of the new CPC Central Military Commission: Chang Wanquan, Fang Fenghui, Zhang Yang, Zhao Keshi, Zhang Youxia, Wu Shengli, Ma Xiaotian and Wei Fenghe.
Fan urged fully implementing the principle of governing the Chinese army by laws and high standards, and maintaining security and stability of the military force.
Xu called for better preparations for fulfilling military duties and enhancing the Party's organizations within the armed forces.
Xu also asked all Party organizations and members in the military to keep purity and the vanguard nature, as well as reinforce unity and combat capacity.