China's Hu clears way for Xi to take party helm

China's Hu clears way for Xi to take party helm
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping raises his hand to show approval for a work report during the closing ceremony for the 18th Communist Party Congress held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
BEIJING (AP) - President Hu Jintao has stepped aside as Communist Party leader to clear the way for Vice President Xi Jinping to take the helm in China.

Delegates to a pivotal party congress said that Hu was not re-elected a member of the party's Central Committee on the final day of the gathering Wednesday. Xi was re-elected along with other leading candidates for seats on the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

Designated as successor five years ago, Xi will take over as party general secretary from Hu on Thursday and as president next spring, in China's second orderly transfer of power. Li Keqiang also is due to take over from Wen Jiabao as premier. The new leaders face an economic slowdown and rising unrest among citizens.