BEIJING -- Jiang Zemin relinquished his title as Communist Party leader Friday but held on to significant power -- including authority over China's military -- even as he ceded the party's top jobs to the enigmatic Hu Jintao and a younger generation of leaders.
Major policy changes on economic reform, Taiwan and other key issues appear unlikely following communist China's first orderly transfer of power.
Jiang, 76, won almost certain influence in coming years when six of his supporters were installed on the nine-member inner communist circle, the Politburo Standing Committee.
Hu, 59, was groomed for a decade to succeed Jiang, and his elevation to party leader means he is certain to become president when Jiang's term ends next March.
In a ceremony Friday announcing his appointment, Hu promised to adhere to Jiang's capitalist-style reforms. That strategy took a leap forward this week when delegates to the party's congress adopted Jiang's "Three Represents" theory that calls for inviting entrepreneurs to become members.
Talk of reform
"Chinese people of all ethnic groups will be more closely united to concentrate on construction and development in order to constantly push forward China's reform, opening up and modernization," Hu said at the brief, nationally televised appearance at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing.
Hu grinned and waved to the citizenry, many of whom know little about him and have rarely even seen him.
The soft-spoken former engineer who once built hydroelectric power stations was picked in the early 1990s as Jiang's successor by Deng Xiaoping, the late supreme leader.