BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China on Thursday unveiled the elite group of leaders who will set the agenda for the country for the next decade, presenting them to journalists from around the globe after months of secretive bargaining and abundant speculation.
The seven members of the committee that sits atop China's political system strode out onto a stage in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. They were led by Xi Jinping, who takes over from Hu Jintao as head of the Communist Party, which has ruled China for more than 60 years.
He will be joined on the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top panel, by Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.
A far cry from the relentless media campaigns and frequent public appearances of U.S. presidential candidates, the efforts to determine who ended up on the Standing Committee have taken place behind closed doors, part of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
Despite the spectacular economic and social changes China has undergone in recent times, the party has maintained a tight grip on power and upheld its obscure methods for selecting its top leaders.
The consequences of the leadership handover are significant for the nation's 1.3 billion citizens, its neighbors in Asia and the United States, which is warily watching China's economic and military rise.
The initial phase of the process concluded Wednesday, when President Hu Jintao brought the Communist Party's 18th National Congress to a close amid heavy security in Beijing.