In a few weeks, more than 2,200 delegates to the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party  will convene in Beijing for the most important gathering in a decade, when a new generation of leaders will be ushered in to guide the world's second largest economy for the next 10 years. This is SCMP's pre-conference package on China's leadership transition.
Liaoning's Communist Party secretary, Wang Min , responded to 34 online petition letters in July, a show of sympathy for public concerns that has become normal practice for provincial leaders keen to ease social tensions and maintain stability. After serving as governor or party chief of two rust-belt northeastern provinces - first Jilin and then Liaoning - for about eight years, Wang is seen as a key contributor in the revival of old industrial bases. read more 
With more than 80 million members and 3.3 million branches, China's Communist Party is one of the world's most extensive political organizations. Here is a breakdown of how power is concentrated, in just a handful of key bodies and a few dozen people. 
When President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao took power 10 years ago, China was still new to the world stage, trying to re-establish itself after a decade-long diplomatic stalemate. Now, as Hu and Wen prepare to hand over the reins after a remarkable run that has turned China into the world's second-largest economy, the country is fast becoming a major presence in global events and learning to wield new influence overseas. read more 
It's the beginning of the end for Hu Jintao's decade-long reign over the world's last major communist power, with Beijing preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership succession in just a few weeks' time.
Hu, the head of the People's Republic's fourth generation leadership, is preparing to pass the baton to heir apparent Xi Jinping and a new group of leaders. read more 
While former premier Zhu Rongji is credited with introducing bold measures that set the mainland's financial system on the path of reform, his successor Wen Jiabao may be remembered more for his eloquent speeches than strong action when he steps down from his position early next year. read more 
Debate on whether a major overhaul of state-owned enterprises is needed has intensified in the run-up to the Communist Party's 18th national congress, which will put in place a new team that will lead the country for the next 10 years. read more 
While central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan doesn't have the political heft that goes with membership of the Communist Party's Politburo, his expertise and knowledge of monetary issues have made him a key player in the fortunes of the world's second-largest economy. read more 
THE NEW GENERATION
Front-runners of a younger generation of Communist cadre who have good chances for the top jobs -- including members of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee.
Symbolism can matter a great deal in politics, and Vice-Premier Wang Qishan's similarities to his political mentor, Zhu Rongji, have helped boost his popularity among party officials and ordinary citizens.
With similar personalities, working styles and political careers, Wang and former premier Zhu, a respected reformist, have even shared many nicknames, including problem solver, fire-brigade captain, crisis manager and troubleshooter. read more 
If there's one thing that Li Yuanchao has established during his rise to become chief of the Organisation Department -the Communist Party's patronage control centre - it is that he can forge strong ties across the factional spectrum.
At 51, Li is seen as a member of the "princeling" faction of children born to exalted revolutionary parents. He also has one foot planted in former president Jiang Zemin's "Shanghai gang" and another set in the Communist Youth League, a key power base for President Hu Jintao. read more 
When Bo Xilai's dramatic fall left a power vacuum in the booming metropolis of Chongqing earlier this year, Zhang Dejiang was just the man Beijing needed to step in and clean up the chaos.
Once installed, Zhang quickly moved to reorganise the government and reassure Hong Kong, Taiwanese and overseas investors who worried about instability in the mega-city of nearly 30 million. read more 
Shanghai party chief Yu Zhengsheng, a "princeling" tipped for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee at the 18th party congress, has a knack for using both the carrot and the stick.
The 67-year-old Yu, one of the Politburo's most senior members, has developed good political judgment after enduring many political crises, including his survival during the Cultural Revolution despite his blue-blood background. read more 
Few benefited more than Wang Yang when the murder of a British businessman in a Chongqing hotel room late last year triggered a chain of events that ultimately ended the political career of the city's party chief, Bo Xilai. read more 
Tianjin party chief Zhang Gaoli prefers to work away from the spotlight but that may change as momentum builds for making him a member of the Politburo Standing Committee at the upcoming party congress. He rarely makes public comments about his personal views and is largely known for his economic policies. However, in the lead-up to the congress, Zhang has been seen as eager to engage with the public and the media more. read more 
Liu Yunshan , head of the Communist Party's Publicity Department and widely tipped as a strong candidate for elevation to the Politburo Standing Committee, has spared no effort in touting President Hu Jintao's new motto on party propaganda. read more 
Around midnight, an observer privileged enough to gain access to the secretive General Office of the Communist Party's Central Committee in Beijing would often find the lights on in the office recreation room.
Inside, one of the country's most powerful but least-known men would likely be engaged in something of a ritual: playing table tennis. After a long day, Ling Jihua liked to release some stress with a late-night match - and Ling had his share of stress. read more 
The number of woman politicians who have shaped the nation can be counted on one hand. It's one of the smallest elite clubs in the world, but Liu Yandong may soon crack its doors slightly wider open. Liu, 66, has an outside chance of becoming the first woman member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top decision-making body. read more 
Widely perceived as a loyal henchman of Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao, Guo, 65, was promoted to party boss of the capital on July 3 after less than five years as the capital's mayor. His emergence as a surprise, early winner of the behind-the-scenes horse trading added intrigue in the lead-up to this year's once-a-decade leadership transition. read more 
Han Zheng was 48 when first named mayor of Shanghai in 2003, the youngest person to hold the post in 50 years. Unlike most political stars in the party's orbit, Han did not cut his teeth on a rotation through backwater postings followed by a stint at a second-tier city - he has spent his entire career in Shanghai. And that has proved both a blessing and curse. read more 
Despite a recent series of scandals in Hunan , provincial party secretary Zhou Qiang is still seen as a contender for promotion to the powerful Politburo at the Communist Party's upcoming 18th national congress. A lawyer by training, he is seen as a rising political star within the tuanpai, the Communist Youth League camp that is the power base of party general secretary Hu Jintao for years. read more 
Hu Chunhua raised the eyebrows of many political observers with how quickly he rose from a staff position with the Communist Youth League in Tibet to become party chief of Inner Mongolia . He now stands a chance of entering the Politburo, after surviving two major scandals that would have cost many top politicians their jobs. read more 
He was once the youngest government minister on the mainland. Now he serves as one of the youngest provincial party chiefs, and is a powerful contender for a future top leadership post. Sun Zhengcai , 49, became party secretary of Jilin province in 2009. Jilin joined "the trillionaire GDP club" last year. read more 
Lu Zhangong has two nicknames - "Lu Haixi" and "Lu Zhongyuan" - references to two of his signal achievements as he worked his way up the party hierarchy in the past eight years, first as party chief of Fujian and now Henan. In a sign of his political shrewdness and a testament to his reputation as an economic reformer, Lu successfully lobbied the central government to set up the "Haixi" (Western Taiwan Strait) Economic Zone in Fujian and the Zhongyuan (Central Plains) Economic Zone in Henan as key components of the country's five-year plans. read more 
China is often thought of as a nation of older leaders. But no one has defied that description quite like Lu Hao .
He was just 18 when, on a spring day in Xian in 1985, he became the youngest Communist Party member in Shaanxi since the Cultural Revolution and the only high school student in the Communist Youth League of China (CYL) Shaanxi committee. As a high school teacher recalled to mainland media in 2008: "The boy had something special." read more 
The anti-corruption fighter Ma Wen is surprisingly forthcoming and approachable for a senior mainland official. Ma has been seen as a strong contender for elevation to the party's Politburo, and some whisper there is even a slim chance she may become one of the very few women to serve on its standing committee, the party's supreme decision-making body. read more 
New details about an earlier internal party poll appear to support widely held expectations that Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and party personnel chief Li Yuanchao will be selected for top leadership posts at the upcoming party congress. Both men, along with leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang , received approval ratings of more than 95 per cent in a poll of top Communist Party leaders in May, according to a party insider. read more 
Just six months into his job as Communist Party chief of the western Sichuan province, Liu Qibao had to co-ordinate its recovery from one of the country's biggest natural disasters in 60 years.Today, four years after the devastating magnitude 8 earthquake that killed more than 86,000 people in Sichuan, Liu can boast of his achievements in the province. read more