Beijing residents say they are optimistic - although unsure what to think - about this week's leadership change. A Beijing company executive said that due to the nation's improved laws and government institutions, it was less important now who ran the party than it was years ago. He does not expect any revolutionary upheaval. 'It doesn't sound bad to me,' he said. 'At least it's a relatively smooth transition.' As long as economic policies favour the rich and the poor, new party chief Hu Jintao himself should cause little concern, Beijing residents say. 'As to the preference, I really don't have real knowledge of who will do what, so I have no basis for judgment. But I do have a lot of anticipations,' said Zhang Xiangning, another company chief in Beijing. However, many citizens want to know more about Mr Hu than official statements that say he has worked in several regional party secretary jobs since graduating from Tsinghua University. 'You can't tell anything from his face. He doesn't smile,' said the general manager of a Beijing visa intermediary firm. 'Jiang wasn't like that. He would sing.' There has been some surprise that President Jiang Zemin stepped down from the Central Committee, because Chinese leaders typically stay on until they die or are overthrown. As China Central Television announced the appointment of Mr Hu and eight other new members of the expanded Politburo Standing Committee during lunch hour yesterday, Beijing diners watched in silence, then returned to their hotpots and conversations. Or they laughed. Jokes about Mr Hu are starting to circulate, though the most popular ones concern Mr Jiang's wife, Premier Zhu Rongji's face or the 'Theory of the Three Representatives'. Some ignored the seven-day congress, either because they trust the leadership or find politics meaningless despite a deluge of propaganda. A Chinese representative of an American oil company said most people were too concerned with their duties, salaries and promotion prospects to consider politics. Many said Chinese politics lacked relevance, especially since the party neither conceded power nor changed policies this week. 'The issues are too far from my life,' said Beijing filmmaker Liu Wei. 'Maybe policies will further interest people internationally, business people or wealthy people.' But according to a survey by the Social Survey Institute of China in October, 41.5 per cent of respondents said they wanted the party to improve education, health insurance and care for the elderly. Survey respondents cited legal issues, unemployment and quality of life as areas of concern. However, a Beijing architect said that because of China's shift to a market economy, he would not be looking to the party for help. Welfare, he said, 'is everyone's own responsibility now'.