'Fairly good' first year for Xi-Li duo, with dash of luck

'Fairly good' first year for Xi-Li duo, with dash of luck
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and Premier Li Keqiang.

In their first year at the top, Chinese leaders Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang have steered the country with skill and a bit of luck. China bureau chief Kor Kian Beng looks at their first-year report card.

China's economy is showing signs of a rebound. An anti-corruption drive has nabbed several top officials. There is progress on the foreign relations front, like gaining some respect from major powers such as the United States and relaunching a charm offensive in South-east Asia.

All in all, it's been a fairly good first year for President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, the No. 1 and No. 2 leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), analysts say.

Their performance since November last year has strengthened their power base and ability to push their agenda at the party's Third Plenum starting on Saturday, the analysts add.

It helped that they took power on a firmer footing than their predecessors did.

At the 18th Party Congress last November, Mr Xi was handed both the reins of the CCP and the chairmanship of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC). Mr Hu Jintao, who became party chief in 2002, had to play second fiddle until his predecessor Jiang Zemin relinquished the CMC post in 2004.

As for Mr Li, he is ranked one spot higher than previous premier Wen Jiabao, who was No. 3 in the party.

"Both Xi and Li have done quite well in the first year," Nottingham University analyst Wang Zhengxu said.

"The transfer of power from the outgoing cohort is much more complete and clear-cut, so Xi and Li have more control over things once they took over."

And while the Hu-Wen administration was tested by the Sars epidemic - which killed 349 nationwide - in their first year, Mr Xi and Mr Li have been spared anything of similar magnitude.

In the first months of their administration, they pretty much followed what the Hu-Wen team did, including using public relations to raise their profile.

Photos of Mr Xi travelling in a mini-bus instead of a limousine on his first tour outside Beijing, to southern Shenzhen city, were splashed online.

Mr Li hosted an Aids meeting and shook hands with HIV sufferers, taking a leaf from Mr Wen who became the first premier to do so in December 2003.

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