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Beneath the hype: What, actually, will China's party congress do? (+video)

The Communist Party Congress most certainly will laud President Hu’s review of China's accomplishments over his past five years in office.

China's ruling Communist Party is set to select its new leader in the coming 18th congress. While Vice Present Xi Jinping will succeed President Hu Jintao as the general-secretary, analyst expects Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will retain some of their influences in the party.
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Amid all the hype surrounding Thursday’s opening of the ruling Communist Party’s 18th Congress, the headlines declaring it “crucial” to China’s future, and the crush of more than 1,000 foreign reporters accredited to cover the confab, it is sometimes hard to remember that the week-long meeting is not actually going to decide anything.

The only question of interest to anyone outside the Great Hall of the People is who will emerge from the congress at the top of the Communist Party. And that will have been decided in much smaller conclaves before the delegates take their seats.

The congress “is a show for mass consumption,” says Zheng Yongnian, head of the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore. “But it matters because it is very symbolic, and the new leaders who have been selected have to go through the formal procedures.”

The 2,270 delegates will in fact elect only the 300 or so members and alternate members of the party’s Central Committee. It is they, meeting next week once the congress is over, who will elect the two dozen members of the decisionmaking Politburo, who in turn will name a handful of men – either seven or nine, rumors vary – to the Politburo Standing Committee at the summit of the pyramid.

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