From The Wall Street Journal:
Avid China watchers have been closely following the ongoing 17th Party Congress for clues about the leadership succession in 2012. But the outcome of that process will have important implications for the rest of the world even before President Hu Jintao hands the reins to his successor.
Mr. Hu’s apparent failure to command a solid majority in the new Politburo Standing Committee — China’s nine-man highest governing council — to be endorsed by the Congress is a signal that he’s wielding less influence than his predecessor Jiang Zemin at the height of the latter’s power. This will render the cautious current leader even less likely to take bold reform measures, especially political liberalization. He may also take tougher stands on Taiwan and Hong Kong to marshal the support of the generals and to solidify his grip on Party, state and military. [Full Text]