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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Chinese President Prepares to Announce Successor

President Hu Jintao plans to announce his successor this Thursday.

Current Chinese President Hu Jintao
Current Chinese President Hu Jintao
Thursday marks a once-in-a-decade change in regime as China’s current president will announce his successor at the 18th Communist Party Congress.

President Hu Jintao currently holds three positions in Chinese government: General Secretary of the Communist Party, President of the People’s Republic, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.

He is expected to pass down each position to his second-in-command, Vice President Xi Jingping, all at different times. He will be announcing who will take over as General Secretary on Thursday.

The presidential position will be passed on to Xi Jinping in March of next year.

The one wild-card in this seemingly obvious governmental transition is when exactly Hu Jintao will accede the CMC chairman position. Hu Jintao only took over this role in 2004, as his predecessor Jiang Zemin retained the title for about two years after stepping down as president.

The CMC is the primary decision maker for China’s armed forces. If Hu Jintao maintains this position, he will still have considerable power and influence in the Chinese government.

China has a history of violent conflicts during government successions. They have only experienced a bloodless transition once before, when Hu Jintao took office in the mid-2000s. Xi Jinping’s succession is widely expected by the Chinese population, and currently shows no signs of controversy.

Once in office, Xi Jinping will have to tackle considerable problems facing China right now, like their economic relationship with Europe and territory conflict with Japan.

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