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Getting a glimpse of the future from a front-row seat

Greg Fountain
Updated: Oct 26,2017 8:52 AM     China Daily

It was cold outside the Great Hall of the People on Oct 25, but inside-where a news conference was being held to introduce the Communist Party of China’s new top leadership-was warm and welcoming.

I and hundreds of other Chinese and foreign journalists attended the event so we could see for the first time the newly elected members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Reporters and photographers jostled for position in the huge building’s Eastern Hall as they prepared to meet the people who would help shape China’s destiny.

The room was filled with voices as attendees took photos and searched for a seat. I was fortunate enough to get one in the front row, off to one side, where I would have a clear view of proceedings.

Tiered seats lined the back of the room and on them was arrayed a forest of cameras, slowly clicking away, snapping shots of the still-empty stage, perhaps to find their focus.

One or two stragglers picked their way through the crowd, trying to secure what few empty seats remained.

It was a capacity crowd so space was at a premium, but before too long an announcer piped up, quieting the muddle of voices as he launched into an introductory statement.

Then, just before noon, the click of camera shutters from the back row reached a crescendo, signaling that the new leaders were entering the room.

It was Xi Jinping, newly re-elected by the CPC Central Committee as general secretary, flanked by Li Keqiang and the five new members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau: Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng.

Amid a round of applause, Xi took to the podium and thanked the Party for the trust they had put in his leadership, describing his re-election as not only a sign of their “approval of my work, but also encouragement that will spur me on”.

He thanked the assembled journalists for their “extensive and detailed reporting” and introduced his fellow committee members one by one.

Afterward, Xi outlined a road map for the country over the coming years.

He highlighted important landmarks along the way, such as next year’s 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2019 and the Party’s centenary in 2021.

He further spoke of his desire to see a more prosperous and stronger China, and his conviction that “the gradual rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will become a reality”.

His confidence that the Chinese Dream will be realized was plain for all to see, as was his promise that no one would be left behind on this march toward common prosperity.

There was “no doubt” in his mind, he said, that the Chinese people will see further improvement in their lives “year after year”.

And for what it’s worth, I see no reason to doubt it, either.