China's new leaders struck a populist tone today as they got down to the painstaking work of governing, promising cleaner government, less red tape, and more fairness to a still small middle class. In appearances that mark the completion of a months-long, orchestrated leadership transition, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang stressed the urgency of reining in runaway official corruption to restore the Communist Party's frayed public credibility. "If the people are to live a good life, their government must be put on a tight budget," Li said in his first news conference as premier.
Earlier, in addressing the nearly 3,000 legislative deputies in the Great Hall of the People, Xi promised to root out "corruption and other misconduct in all manifestations." He said people's own aspirations must be part of "the Chinese dream"—a signature phrase he has used to invoke national greatness. "Each of us must have broad space to diligently realize our own dreams," he said. Though Xi and Li were installed as Nos. 1 and 2 in the party leadership in November, today's closing of the legislature means their government is now fully in place.