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Hu Chunhua, left, and Chen Min'er were among the provincial Chinese leaders watching their words at the Communist Party congress Thursday.
Politics

China's younger party leaders play it safe at congress

'Post-Xi' generation puts praising president before self-congratulation

SHUNSUKE TABETA, Nikkei staff writer | China

BEIJING -- China's young and rising political figures decided to show loyalty to President Xi Jinping rather than tout their own achievements Thursday -- mindful of Xi's desire to hold on to power for the long run -- as the twice-per-decade Communist Party National Congress continues.

The so-called post-Xi generation, about a decade younger than the president, spoke during and after conferences of their respective provinces.

Chen Min'er, who has risen quickly as a close aide to the president and is party chief for the city of Chongqing, was unreserved in his praise from the start of the day's meetings. "The more one reads into" the report with which Xi opened the congress the day before, "the more deeply rich it seems to grow," he said at one point. It is only with Xi's core leadership of the party, Chen said, that "historic reforms will be fulfilled, and a new era will begin."

At a press conference later, Chen did not dictate which reporter could pose questions, breaking with his own precedent. When asked about predecessor Sun Zhengcai -- a once-promising member of the post-Xi cadre felled by "serious discipline violations" -- Chen said Sun had "greatly harmed the reform and opening-up of Chongqing." Chen promised to "completely wipe out" those ill effects "according to the party's wishes."

The party secretary for Guangdong Province, Hu Chunhua, appeared before reporters for an hour after the day's meetings, but let subordinates field most of the questions, answering just two himself. Those answers played up Xi's report, including Hu's pledge to "create a new bureau that will strengthen the party's peripheral organizations as stated in General Secretary Xi's report."

The younger generation of leaders also includes such names as Heilongjiang Province's party secretary Zhang Qingwei, who came to prominence for his part in the success of China's first manned spaceflight, as well as Lu Hao, governor of that province, and Jiangsu Province party head Li Qiang. But they, too, have largely played it safe at this year's congress, despite frequently speaking of their own successes in the past.

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