China Begins Once-a-Decade Leadership Change

Conference addresses corruption, slowed economic growth
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 8, 2012 6:38 AM CST
An attendant serves tea while Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping attends the opening session of 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China,   (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

(Newser) – China's Tiananmen Square has been emptied of its usual activists and crowds, red flowers and flags blanket the capital, and 1.4 million volunteers are on-hand to provide security as the country's leadership today begins a shift that occurs just once per decade, the BBC reports. President Hu Jintao opened the week-long congress by addressing a range of issues, from recently-slowed economic growth to official corruption, which Hu mentioned 16 times in his speech and said "could prove fatal to the party," the AP reports. What follows is a secretive process in which a new central committee is named, and it in turn selects the country's top leadership: the Politburo Standing Committee members.

Taking the reins from Hu is likely to be Vice President Xi Jinping, with whom Joe Biden has tried to foster ties, the Washington Post reports. It's believed the new roster will be announced one week from today; in the meantime, the coming days are jam-packed with news briefings, meetings, and other events that the Post explains are designed to take the people's attention off the "closed and secretive process." The consensus among most experts is that the Standing Committee members are actually chosen in advance by retired and current leaders. One thing to watch: Will Hu remain head of the country's military? (Read more China stories.)

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