A Communist Party Congress might seem like a throwback to an older, less dynamic China. What the public sees of these events, scheduled once every five years, are video clips of 2,000-plus bureaucrats in the Great Hall of the People, a monumental, socialist-realist edifice in the heart of Beijing. In a vast auditorium swathed in a sea of red bunting, they’ll listen to hours and hours of turgid speeches and then cast near-unanimous votes.
Yet when officials from across the country converge on Oct. 15 for the Party’s 17th Congress, it won’t just be a ceremonial exercise. True, the faces at the very top won’t change”President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will almost certainly rule for another five years. But below them, a new generation of leaders will likely be promoted into key positions. [Full Text]