'Xi faces daunting task in satisfying China's 1.3bn people'
Beijing: China under Hu Jintao emerged as the world's second-largest economy but his successor Xi Jinping faces the daunting task to ensure that 1.3 billion Chinese people can lead a better life amid lingering effects of global financial crisis.
Securing the food, water and air security of Chinese people is one of the new leadership's biggest challenges, analysts said as Xi was elected as the new General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party.
In his maiden address to the nation, Xi, now Chinese Vice President, noted that Chinese people hope for better education, more stable jobs, more satisfactory income, more reliable social security, medical services with higher standards, more comfortable living conditions and a more beautiful environment.
"They wish that children will grow better, work better and live better. The people's desire for a better life is simply the target of our endeavour," he said.
He said the Communist Party, that has ruled China since the People's Republic was founded in 1949, has led the people in achieving accomplishments that has captured the attention of the world, we have every reason to be proud.
"Proud but not complacent, and we will not rest on our achievements," Xi said.
"In this new environment, our Party is confronted with many severe challenges. There are many pressing problems within the Party that needs to be resolved urgently, especially the graft and corruption cases...," he said, urging the CPC to be vigilant against them.
China, known for its cheap, labour-intensive exports, is now the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
China's economic miracle has lifted 500 million people out of poverty. But the economic model that worked so well during the early years of China's development now needs to change, the analysts said.
They say China's economy must be rebalanced to give more weight to consumers instead of investment, much of which is government-led and wasteful.
State-owned companies which dominate many sectors of the economy need to be opened up to competition, they said.
But government supporters say efforts to re-balance the economy was hit by the global financial crisis, which prompted a huge stimulus package rather than structural reforms.
Challenges for Xi also include re-balancing the economy from export dependent to the one more relying on domestic demand. In the face of declining exports, the economy has slowed down to 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter missing even the 7.5 percent target.
Critics argue China's one-party rule is too compromised by vested interest groups, political concerns and endemic corruption to introduce the much-needed changes.
Incomes in Chinese cities have risen faster than in rural areas, while rich coastal provinces have powered ahead of the poor interior. A study done by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank, to say that the gap between urban and rural incomes has jumped 68 percent since 1985, creating one of the widest wealth gaps in Asia.
The Communist Party-led government is hugely worried the yawning wealth gap could spark social unrest.
As Chinese people have become richer and better educated, their expectations too have drastically changed.
They no longer just expect the next generation of leaders to run an economy that creates jobs and wealth, they want better services and greater freedoms too.
Faced with a surging population, China attempted to put the brakes on procreation in the late 1970s by implementing a controversial policy limiting couples in some areas to just one child.
As a result, China has fewer and fewer young people to pay for the pensions and health-care of more and more elderly.