18th Party Congress
The Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, held in Beijing November 8-14, 2012, marked a key power transition in China. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao. The Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in number from nine to seven. Unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao handed over both the Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission positions to Xi.
China's top leadership: is a smaller club good or bad?
A meeting held by the Chinese Communist Party's leadership at Beidaihe about two month ago reportedly decided that the Standing Committee of the Party's Politburo, or China's top decision-making body, would reduce its members from the current nine to seven people. Instead of being automatically granted seats at the top table, the Party's propaganda chief and head of the security apparatus are likely to be downgraded to normal Politburo members.
How will this decision, if upheld at the 18th Party Congress in November, affect China's political landscape? Does this change mean the Party is relaxing its grip on freedom of press and there will be less ideology propaganda? Will this move limit the power of the security apparatus that cracks down on political dissidents and seeks to maintain "social stability" at all cost? Does a smaller leadership size necessarily lead to a more efficient executive body? Moreover, is it a step back, as many have worried, from widening an already highly centralized decision making administration?