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China moves closer to announcing new leader

CHINA’S leadership transition officially edged ahead yesterday with the executive body of the Communist Party Congress forwarding a list of names to congress delegates for review.

State media reported that the congress’s presidium, 41 current and former members of the leadership, approved the candidate list for the Central Committee and sent it to the delegates.

The delegates will cast votes before the congress closes on Wednesday to choose the 
Central Committee, a roughly 350-member body. The Central Committee, in turn, will select the top leadership.

The move is largely a formality, as is the congress itself. Deciding the line-up of leading bodies falls to a small group of power brokers.

Vice President Xi Jinping has been all but formally announced to replace President Hu Jintao as party chief and president.

China Central Television showed Hu addressing the meeting of the presidium, which was presided over by Xi.

Candidates for the Central Committee outnumber seats by only a small portion, giving the 2,268 congress delegates little choice.

In addition to the name list for Central Committee members, the meeting also forwarded candidate lists for the party’s internal watchdog agency, state media reported.

Meanwhile, figures yesterday showed China’s sharp economic downturn has ended, after trade and consumer spending improved in October.

However, the world’s second-largest economy is not ready for a recovery and exporters face tough conditions.

The economy should be 
able to meet the government’s 7.5 per cent growth target this year, Zhang Ping, the chairman of the country’s planning agency, told a Communist 
Party news conference.

The comments echoed private sector analysts who say economic activity is improving but a recovery from China’s deepest slump since the 2008 global financial crisis will be gradual and weak.

“The figures do indeed indicate an obvious trend of the Chinese economy stabilising,” Zhang said.

“That said, we should not let down our guard. Our conclusion is that the foundation is not solid enough for a rebound in the Chinese economy and therefore we need to step up our efforts.”

Trade data yesterday showed export growth accelerated in October to 11.6 per cent from the previous month’s 9.9 per cent. Data released on Friday showed auto sales, consumer spending and investment also improved in October.

Zhang gave no indication what new initiatives Beijing might consider. The government has cut interest rates twice this year and is injecting money into the economy through higher spending on building airports and other public works and investment by state companies.

Economic growth fell to a three-and-a-half-year low of 
7.4 per cent in the quarter ending in September. Growth for the first three quarters of the year was 7.7 per cent, putting the government’s target for the year within reach.

Also in October, inflation fell, giving Beijing room to launch a new stimulus if needed, with less danger of igniting new price spikes.

However, commerce minister Chen Deming warned that exporters face tough conditions due to weak global demand and rising costs.

“The trade situation will be relatively grim in the next few months and there will be many difficulties next year,” Chen said.

 
 
 

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