Beidaihe meeting on leadership succession ends, say analysts
The secretive party conclave in the beach resort of Beidaihe is widely believed to have come to an end last weekend, setting the tone for the once-in-a-decade leadership succession later this year, according to political analysts.
Although state media and mainland officials have remained tight-lipped about the existence of such a meeting, the analysts said all signs pointed to the conclusion of this year's seaside gathering, where the most important personnel and policy issues were expected to be finalised ahead of the 18th party congress this autumn.
The most telling evidence was said to be a state television report yesterday that Premier Wen Jiabao had embarked on an inspection trip to the eastern province of Zhejiang on Tuesday.
"We knew that the conclave may have been under way when state leaders, including Vice-President Xi Jinping , began showing up in Beidaihe for various public functions late last month, according to state media reports," veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said.
Both Lau and Professor Hu Xingdou , a Beijing-based analyst, said CCTV's coverage of Wen's trip to Zhejiang was an unequivocal sign that the Beidaihe meeting, which usually lasted about 10 days to two weeks, had ended.
They noted that several other recent events, such as the trial of Gu Kailai, wife of the disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai , also showed that the nation's top incumbent and retired leaders had reached a broad consensus on the central government's future leadership, through behind-the-scene negotiations.
While Gu pleaded guilty to murder in a trial in Hefei , Anhui province, last week, it remained unclear when and how Beijing would deal with Bo, widely seen as a major obstacle to the leadership transition.
Lau said the gathering in Beidaihe was mainly aimed at making decisions on the script that would play out amid intense jockeying for power ahead of the Party Congress.
"Although the decisions [already reached in Beidaihe] may be still subject to fine-tuning until the last minute, it is unlikely there will be any dramatic changes later, " he said.
Analysts also noted that retired leaders, such as former president Jiang Zemin and former premier Li Peng , tried to flex their political muscles to wield any remaining influence before and during the sensitive Beidaihe talks.