China media: New era in Beijing

President Xi Jinping (R) and Premier Li Keqiang's appointment marks the end of top leadership change in China Xi Jinping (R) and Li Keqiang's appointments mark the end of the leadership change

Media in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taipei see challenges ahead for Beijing's new leaders, especially on battling vested interests.

China Central Television and other media ran live coverage of 3,000 deputies of the National People's Congress electing Li Keqiang as premier of the country this morning.

Mr Li's promotion completes the country's once-in-a-decade leadership transition towards a "Xi-Li" era after Xi Jinping's election as president and military chief by lawmakers yesterday.

Chinese-language media across the political spectrum point out that China is at a turning point and critical stage of reforms amid unprecedented challenges.

"The road ahead for the new leadership is not smooth and a number of obstacles have to be negotiated, including economic slowdown, corruption, and livelihood issues, such as healthcare reform and pollution," China Daily notes.

Wen Wei Po, a newspaper with close ties to Beijing, and Hong Kong Economic Journal, an independent business daily, say Mr Xi's team faces tough challenges in addressing livelihood difficulties, corruption, the US involvement in the Asia-Pacific region and territorial disputes.

"The political structure of a one-party monopoly of power is no longer able to meet the diverse demands of society. The later the Xi-Li system embarks on political reform, the greater the pressure it will encounter," Hong Kong Economic Journal concludes.

Hong Kong Economic Times says Mr must fight a "battle without gunpowder" against vested interest groups resisting reform.

Apple Daily, an outspoken critic of Beijing's communist system and one of the Hong Kong's top-selling tabloids, says the new leadership has already "closed the door to political reform" and says Mr Xi lacks the "political courage" of late reformist Communist Party leaders Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang.

"If he [Xi Jinping] is determined to promote political reform, he should at least be able to follow the example of Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang by choosing to promote the separation of the party and government as a starting point," the newspaper stresses.

Across the Taiwan Strait, Taipei's Want Daily looks forward to an "open and pluralistic" new Communist Party and new China. It hopes that Xi Jinping can fulfil the demands of a growing middle class for a better quality of life and security, and overcome vested interests to reform.

Liberty Times, however, says the Taiwan defence ministry's Quadrennial Defence Review warning of Beijing's continued build-up of military deployments against the island is a sober wake-up call to the "wishful fantasies" of the Taiwan government towards the mainland.

Obama-Xi phone call

In other news, China Central Television also give prominent coverage to US President Barack Obama congratulating Mr Xi on his election as president on the telephone last night.

State media quote Mr Xi as telling his counterpart that both countries should build a "new type of relationship between big powers" and that China and the US are capable of turning the Pacific into an "ocean of peace and ocean of co-operation".

They add that Mr Xi explained "China's principled stance" on the Korean Peninsula and cyber-security without giving further details or mentioning Mr Obama's recent comments on some cyber-attacks being "state-sponsored" by China.

Xinhua criticises Mr Obama and other US officials of turning China into the "main culprit" for cyber-attacks and says both countries should co-operate on cyber-security instead of trading barbs.

Global Times and China Daily both run articles today accusing the US military establishment of "rogue tricks" in hyping up a China cyber-threat to boost support for its own cyber force.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has welcomed the election of Pope Francis and expresses hope that the Vatican can create conditions for healing relations with Beijing that were severed in 1951 after the Vatican switched diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, Xinhua reports.

Bishop John Fang Xingyao, chairman of the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, hopes the new Pope can "turn over a new leaf" in relations, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reports.

"Given that God has chosen the new Pope as a leader, I'm sure he would grant him the ability to build better relations," Bishop Fang was quoted as saying.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong, tells South China Morning Post that Pope Francis should follow former Pope Benedict in maintaining a stern attitude towards Beijing. He says Beijing must also make concessions on freedom of religion and freeing jailed clergy.

Taipei's China Times says Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou is expected to attend the Pope's inaugural Mass in the Vatican next Tuesday and is watching whether Beijing opposes the visit.

Tou Chou-seng, Taipei's former ambassador to the Holy See, says the new Pope will continue contacts with Beijing but is unlikely to cut diplomatic ties with Taipei.

"As long as mainland China continues to control religion and the people on the mainland cannot enjoy religious freedom, any discussion on the two sides establishing diplomatic relations is nothing more than asking for the impossible," Mr Tou writes in China Times.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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