(L) Xi Jinping greets the media at the Great Hall of the People on November 15, 2012 in Beijing, China. - 

On China’s new rulers to-do list: Tackle the nation’s widening wealth gap, clean up decades-worth of environmental neglect, and straighten out the kinks in the economy.

"The first and most immediate challenge is how to handle a slowing economy," says Patrick Chovanec, professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management. "There are a lot of people who would like them to respond with stimulus and help pump the country back up, there are others who argue that what’s needed is more reform; even if that means slower growth in the short run."

If the new leaders choose a path of economic reform, says Chovanec, that will mean a transfer of capital from a public sector full of giant state-owned enterprises to the private sector, opening up China to more market competition.



Follow Rob Schmitz at @rob_schmitz