China's old boys club meets to plan the future
The Communist Party will begin its once-in-a-decade change of leaders today by insisting that its iron grip on power "suits China's national reality".
"The leading position of the Communist Party in China is a decision made by history and the people," said Cai Mingzhao, a party propaganda official. Mr Cai had been asked, on the eve of the 18th Party Congress, whether the conclave that anoints China's leaders might one day give more power to the people.
Earlier yesterday, news of the American election had been broadcast on Chinese television. But Mr Cai was quick to rule out any such scenario in China.
"China has scored world-renowned achievements and it speaks fully to the leadership of the Communist Party," he said. "The political system suits China's national reality." He spoke in the Great Hall of the People, after a dress rehearsal for the opening day of the congress.
Today, Hu Jintao, the outgoing president, will open the congress with an address summing up his achievements. A week of closed-door meetings will then take place, followed by the unveiling of a new Politburo Standing Committee.
A survey published in the 'Global Times', a state-run newspaper, yesterday suggested that eight out of 10 Chinese want greater political reform and two-thirds feel the government should face more public scrutiny.
But Mr Cai was adamant the 2,268 Communist Party members attending the congress were able to represent 1.3 billion Chinese. "They know what the people want," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)