The absence of retired leaders from yesterday's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference opening ceremony apparently reflected the succession of power in the Communist Party leadership. Except for Vice-President Zeng Qinghong , 'third-generation leaders' such as former president Jiang Zemin , former premier Zhu Rongji and former National People's Congress chairman Li Peng did not take part in the ceremony. Mr Zeng, 69, is expected to step down at the NPC session and keep a low profile after his retirement, which was confirmed after he relinquished his position as a member to the elite Politburo Standing Committee last autumn at the party's 17th National Congress. His party portfolio has been taken over by Xi Jinping , former Shanghai party secretary and son of late party elder Xi Zhongxun . Mr Jiang and other retired leaders attended the 17th congress. Sitting on the presidium yesterday, Mr Zeng seemed to enjoy the event as he shook hands and greeted other leaders. Mr Zeng showed little interest in a report delivered by CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin , but President Hu Jintao busied himself reading the 24-page report. Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan and Central Military Commission vice-chairman Xu Caihou also looked relaxed, and chatted with former commerce minister and now Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai . Sitting among the state leaders were a number of new faces, including a few from Hong Kong. Most notable was Rafael Hui Si-yan, former Hong Kong chief secretary. As in previous CPPCC sessions, the response from delegates to Mr Jia's report was lukewarm yesterday. The chairman only received a few rounds of applause after his hour-long address. But he was apparently unperturbed and waved at delegates before stepping down from the podium.