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The dates for the Chinese Communist Party 18th Party Congress have been announced, along with the small detail that members of the new Central Committee will be chosen through secret ballot in what Xinhua calls a competitive election; missing though is any information on just how competitive an election it will be.
On the upside, China's new leaders will get their first grilling from foreign press once the Congress wraps up next week.
"We should not be intimidated by any risk or be confused by any distraction," added Cai, spokesman for the 18th CPC National Congress, which will open in Beijing on Thursday.
Xinhua has listed the six items on the agenda for the Congress, but when Hu Jintao plans to hand Xi Jinping his seat as head of the Central Military Commission, the supreme decision-making body for the armed forces, still remains unknown.
One of the main policy directions being trumpeted so far is renewed commitment to reining in China's widening rich-poor gap. Earlier speculation that Mao Zedong Thought will be formally removed from the Communist Party constitution looks increasingly unlikely, as does the possibility that Wen Jiabao will declare his assets or push through a sunshine law in the near future.
Update: Wednesday evening Hong Kong time, Xinhua published a list of the 41 chairs of the Central Committee meeting during the 18th Party Congress which opens today. A few minutes ago, Chinese political gossip site Boxun published an article which points out that the list includes Ling Jihua, who was demoted earlier this year after trying to cover up his son's death in March in a Ferrari reportedly with two female passengers.
In addition, Boxun points out that the surprising inclusion of Ling as a chair, following with tradition, arguably makes him eligible for a seat on the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee. The possibility also exists that he might just get voted out of the Central Committee this week.
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-- May You Live in Interesting Times: China's Leader-Legitimacy Problem For the first time in its history, the all-powerful Communist Party has no clear way to guarantee a smooth power transfer.
Christian Science Monitor
-- China enlists everyone from cops to cabbies to enforce orderly transition China's ruling Communist Party opens a congress Thursday to usher in a new group of leaders. Much about the meeting will be a reminder that China remains an authoritarian state.
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New York Times
-- Unwelcome at the Party The Communist Party views Tibetans and Uighur Muslims from western China as noxious. They are constantly under suspicion as troublemakers, if not terrorists. My wife, as it happens, is petite, as lacking in guile as a window pane, and about as far from a terrorist as one could get.
Sydney Morning Herald
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Voice of America
-- Five Tibetans Self-Immolate Today Across Tibetan Regions Three monks from Ngaba, a mother from Rebkong and a Tibetan man from Driru are reported to have self-immolated on Wednesday in an apparent China protest, a day before the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress.
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