Xi takes China's helm with many tough challenges

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BEIJING — Long-anointed successor Xi Jinping assumed the leadership of China after the country’s political elite named him to the top party post today, and unexpectedly put him in charge of the military too, after a weeklong party congress.

The appointments give him broad authority, but not the luxury of time. After decades of juggernaut growth, China sits on the cusp of global pre-eminence as the second largest economy and newest power, but it also has urgent domestic troubles that could frustrate its rise.

Problems that have long festered — from the sputtering economy to friction with the U.S. and territorial spats with Japan and other neighbors — have worsened in recent months as the leadership focused on the power transfer.

In his first address to the nation, Xi, 59, promised to deliver better social services while making sure China stands tall in the world and the party continues to rule.

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