The Great Hall of the People reverberated with 21 resounding "noes" yesterday, the last day of the Communist Party's week-long 18th national congress.
Party general secretary Hu Jintao, presiding over his last party gathering, asked the more than 2,200 delegates to raise their hands to vote for three motions at the closing ceremony.
All seven voting monitors, each scanning a particular area for the raised hands of delegates voting in the affirmative, called out "no objection" three times, suggesting the votes were carried unanimously.
Delegates were asked to vote on three resolutions: approval of Hu's political report, the work report of the Central Commission for Discipline and Inspection, the party's anti-graft watchdog, and revisions to the party's constitution. Besides approving those documents, the delegates' most important task was the earlier election, behind closed doors, of members of the powerful Central Committee and the Discipline Inspection Commission, the party's graft watchdog.
Hu appeared to study the documents during the closing ceremony, which lasted for more than an hour, while Premier Wen Jiabao looked around continually without glancing at the documents in front of him. Hu's 86-year-old predecessor, Jiang Zemin , looked frail, tired and impatient during the session and needed help to stand up to sing The Internationale at the end of proceedings.
Vice-President Xi Jinping , who will be named today to succeed Hu as party general secretary, slouched in his seat.
Former vice-president Zeng Qinghong looked as feisty as he did during the congress' opening ceremony, with his violet tie standing out from the uniformly red ties worn by others in the front row.
Hu's controversial former top aide, Ling Jihua , appeared to be having problems maintaining his focus, looking away and not paying attention to what was being read out.
Ling, the former chief of the General Office of the Central Committee, was seen as a contender for promotion to the Politburo until news broke of his son's death in a Ferrari crash in Beijing in March. Ling was transferred to head the party's less influential United Front Work Department in September.