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.
Bloggers ridicule congress delegates' sycophantic speeches
Teddy Ng and Mimi Lau in Beijing
Self-important party delegates attending the national congress have become the target of ridicule online on the mainland blogosphere.
Some delegates, while discussing a report delivered by party chief Hu Jintao when the congress began on Thursday, were criticised for sycophantic speeches that served to attract attention to themselves, without offering any insight into the country's development.
Beijing delegate Ju Xiaolin, in remarks praising Hu, said he wrote a poem, entitled "Getting New Hope", expressing the views of ordinary workers such as himself. He started reading, but quickly became choked up at the beginning and needed a few seconds to collect himself (video below).
"I found … I found … I found new hope on November 8 when I heard applause as loud as a thunderstorm when President Hu was delivering his report," Ju said. "I have finally found … new hope in his 64-page report."
Ningxia delegate Li Jian said she was similarly moved by Hu's report, saying the party was determined to create a "beautiful" China that focuses on environmental protection. "I shed tears five times when listening to President Hu's report," Li said, adding that she was "proud to be Chinese, and fortunate to be a Ningxia resident".
Most online users, however, were unmoved by the delegates' remarks and instead questioned whether their tears were sincere.
One microblog post said Li appeared to be trying to further her political career, one tear at a time. Another said: "Political meetings in other countries are for discussing serious issues. But in China, they are carnivals."
In a meeting of the Inner Mongolia delegates, regional party chief Hu Chunhua put on a smile when delegate Shan Dan, who is also a reporter with a radio station in Inner Mongolia, said: "The congress kicked off on November 8, which was Journalists' Day and also my 42nd birthday. I will remember that day all my life."
And at a meeting of the Guangdong delegates, Du Xiaojuan said she was so excited that she needed to stand up to make her remarks.
The province's party chief, Wang Yang, started laughing and interrupted by saying: "Maybe if you sit down you can slow your heart rate." To which Du replied, "I am fine, thanks."
Wan Qingliang, party secretary of Guangzhou, said Hu's report was "full of shining points from the innovative theory of Marxism, adding: "It raises my spirit to a higher level, and it makes my heart flutter."
One mainland political observer said that it is has long been the habit of delegates, seeking to advance their political careers, to make empty remarks and praise leaders.
"Some delegates are just not qualified enough," said Professor Zhu Lijia of the Chinese Academy of Governance.