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Xi discarded straw polls in picking China leaders: Xinhua

President Xi Jinping discarded straw polls used in the past to pick China's top leaders, and instead made decisions based on direct consultations with dozens of Communist Party officials.

A lengthy article by the official Xinhua News Agency late Thursday gave new details on the opaque process for how China picks its leaders.

The article said that Mr Xi led a task force that started working in early 2016 to assess potential candidates, and between April and June of this year he personally spoke with 57 incumbent and retired party leaders about who should get promotions.

Party leaders wanted to get rid of the straw polls used to select leaders at the past two party congresses because it "put too much emphasis on the number of votes," Xinhua said.

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The new system emphasises "person-to-person dialogue" and "field research," it said.

Former security czar Zhou Yongkang, former presidential aide Ling Jihua and former Chongqing party chief Sun Zhengcai "took advantage of" the straw-poll system with "votes-soliciting corruption" activities, the news agency said.

Some provincial leaders were flown to Beijing to share their opinions on who should get the top jobs, Xinhua said.

The article also noted that "some party and state leaders voluntarily retired" during the consultation process "to make way for young comrades," without naming anyone.

Wang Qishan, 69, retired from the Politburo Standing Committee this week after widespread speculation that he might stay on.

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