China's Communist Party chose Vice-President Xi Jinping as its new general secretary today as the 18th party congress drew to a close.
Mr Xi was also selected to head the Central Military Commission, the party body which controls the People's Liberation Army.
Former general secretary Hu Jintao made the unusual decision to step down from both posts simultaneously.
He will remain Chinese president until the National People's Congress meets next year.
"We are greatly encouraged by the trust the party has put in us and are aware of the expectations all the ethnic groups of China have of us," Mr Xi said, speaking alongside the other six members of the politburo standing committee, of whom five are new appointments.
"Our people want better education, more stable jobs, more income, better social security, better health care, improved housing and a cleaner environment. To meet their desire is our mission."
But he added: "The party suffers from many severe problems that need to be resolved - particularly corruption and being divorced from the people."
The priority being given to the anti-corruption drive was highlighted when the politburo appointed new member Wang Qishan to head its internal Central Discipline Commission, one of the only new officials named so far.
Under Mr Hu's leadership China's economy grew to be the second largest in the world and Xi Jinping vowed that it would continue "the great renewal of the Chinese nation, make it stand rock-firm among the family of nations."
Mr Xi first joined the Communist Party in 1971 after being sent for re-education through labour in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution while his father, a former guerilla commander from Shanxi, was in jail.
He worked as a farmer for seven years before studying chemical engineering at university. He has worked for the party since the early 1980s and has said his motto is: "Do it now."