8 leaders to retire in China They are majority of highest council

BEIJING — BEIJING -- China's president, defense minister, parliament head and five other senior leaders will retire from top-level positions within the Chinese Communist Party, a Beijing-backed newspaper in Hong Kong reported yesterday.

The eight leaders currently make up a majority of the party's highest body, its 14-member Politburo. Two of them also sit on the Politburo's Standing Committee, the ultimate decision-making body in China. They range in age from 66 to 85.


With the party holding its national congress this week, the eight have asked not to be considered for election to the party's Central Committee, from which Politburo seats and other top positions are filled, the Hong Kong report said.

The Wen Wei Po newspaper, controlled by China, often is used by the party to release sensitive news. The party congress is being held behind closed doors.


The reportedly impending retirements are in line with expectations that the party congress, held once every five years, will result in a shift to a younger group of party leaders to carry out Chinese senior leader Deng Xiaoping's drive to accelerate China's economic reforms.

"With the passing of time, quite a few comrades are getting advanced in age," People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, commented yesterday. "We must have an orderly, steady and normal transition from the old leaders to the new."

This new leadership line-up is expected to be announced here early next week, after the party congress ends this weekend.

It was not clear if four of the eight reported retirees -- President Yang Shangkun, Defense Minister Qin Jiwei, parliament head DTC Wan Li and Vice Premier Wu Xueqian -- also will step down from their government positions. Mr. Yang and Mr. Wan have been rumored to be retiring from their posts this year or next.

The other four party leaders named as retiring from the Politburo are: Beijing party boss Li Ximing, Sichuan Province party chief Yang Rudai and Standing Committee members Song Ping and Yao Yilin.