China: Communist Party of China to elect new leaders
October 22, 2012
On 8 November, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will begin its 18th National Congress. The Congress, which is held every five years, will bring together around 2,270 delegates, who will elect the new Central Committee. The Congress will also choose the 25 members of the Politburo and, more importantly, the members of the Politburo's Standing Committee - the top political body in China. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, along with other five members of the current nine-person Standing Committee, will step down after having ruled the party since 2002. Hu Jintao is likely to be replaced by Xi Jinping as the party's general secretary, while Wen Jiabao is expected to hand over his position to Li Keqiang. The remaining candidates to the Standing Committee, which is likely to be reduced to seven members, are: Wang Qishan, Li Yuanchao, Yu Zhengsheng, Zhang Dejiang and Wang Yang. According to some analysts, Xi Jinping, who is one of the so-called princelings - children of high ranking officials - and protege of former President Jiang Zemin, has a more reformist agenda than his predecessor. Moreover, despite his strong links to some members of the Shanghai faction of the CPC, Xi Jinping is widely seen as a consensus candidate, as he has also received the support of the tuanpai faction - officials originated from the Communist Youth League - led by President Hu Jintao. Meanwhile, Li Keqiang, who is member of the tuanpai faction, has an agenda that is more in line with the current Hu-Wen administration, based on the "scientific development concept". This concept, which was enshrined into the CPC constitution in 2007, aims at reducing social and regional disparities in order to achieve a "harmonious society". After taking over the reins of the CPC in the 18th National Congress, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are expected to assume the government's Presidency and the Premiership respectively at the next National People's Congress, which will be held in March 2013. The new Xi-Li administration faces the challenge of rebalancing China's economic growth towards a more sustainable path and tackling the rising gap between rich and poor as well as between coastal and inland regions.