BEIJING — President Hu Jintao stepped aside as ruling party leader Wednesday to clear the way for Vice President Xi Jinping to take China’s helm as part of only the second orderly transfer of power in 63 years of Communist rule.
In a possible break from tradition, Hu may also be giving up his post as head of the commission that oversees the military, which would give Xi greater leeway to consolidate his authority when he takes over. A top general indicated Hu would not stay on in the military post.
Hu and other senior leaders mostly in their late 60s are handing over power to leader-in-waiting Xi and other colleagues in their late 50s over the next several months. The new leadership faces daunting challenges including slowing growth in the world’s No. 2 economy, rising unrest among increasingly assertive citizens and delicate relations with neighboring countries.