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China Party Congress Wraps Up Ahead Of Leadership Unveiling
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20321386
Source Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: China
Created: Nov 14, 2012

China's Communist Party has concluded a week-long congress, a day before unveiling its new leadership line-up.

More than 2,200 delegates met to select a new Central Committee in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

That committee will meet on Thursday to endorse China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee.

The new line-up will be keenly watched for signs of China's future economic and political direction.

In a closing statement, President Hu Jintao said the congress had "replaced older leaders with younger ones" and made decisions of "far-reaching historical significance", Xinhua news agency said.

China's leadership change happens every 10 years. The party congress opened on 8 November with a televised work report from Mr Hu, but since then the decision-making has been taking place behind closed doors.

While votes are held, key selections are in reality decided in advance by top leaders, with the Politburo Standing Committee line-up to be revealed at 11:00 (03:00 GMT) on Thursday.

Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are expected to become party leader and deputy respectively. Mr Xi is also expected to take over from Hu Jintao as China's president in March 2013.

Both were appointed to the Central Committee, Xinhua news agency confirmed, as were the leading contenders for inclusion in the Standing Committee.

Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, party organisation chief Li Yuanchao, Tianjin party boss Zhang Gaoli and Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang are all thought to be front-runners.

But the exact composition of the committee - which could be reduced from nine to seven members - will not be clear until it is formally announced.

New faces
The full list of Central Committee members has not yet been revealed. Members are usually leading figures of the party, government and army.

Many current members are past the retirement age, so it is widely expected that at least half of the next committee will be new faces, says the BBC's Raymond Li.

The committee meets every year to make decisions on major policies and is also responsible for appointing the most powerful people in China.

But, our correspondent says, sometimes decisions are made by the politburo and then sent to the committee for final approval, leading some to call it a rubber-stamp.

The party congress also approved Mr Hu's work report and added his Scientific Outlook on Development theory into the party constitution, Xinhua said.

Analysts say there has been division at the very top of the leadership in the lead-up to the congress, with two rival factions jostling for position and influence.

Recent months have also been dominated by the scandal involving former Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai. His wife has been jailed for murdering a British businessman and he looks set to face trial on a raft of corruption-related charges.

Across China, meanwhile, recent cases of official corruption have stoked public anger and there have been a series of high-profile mass protests focusing on land grabs and environmental issues.

Mr Hu, in his speech, said the party had to better tackle corruption issues or risk fatal damage, echoing a warning issued 10 years ago.

"If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state," he said.
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