Grassroots Delegates Get Bigger Role in Chinese Party Congress

Posted November 2nd, 2011 at 3:20 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese state media say workers, farmers and professionals will play a larger role than in the past when the ruling Communist Party selects its next generation of leaders late next year.

In a statement published by the official Xinhua news agency, the party's dominant Central Committee said women and ethnic groups will also be better represented at the party's 18th National Congress, where the leaders will be formally chosen.

The party's 80 million members began this week the task of selecting more than 2,000 delegates to take part in the congress, normally held every five years. The congress is the highest ranking body within the party, with the power to amend the party constitution and select the powerful Central Committee.

In a statement two weeks ago, the Central Committee said the congress comes during a crucial period in which the party must lead the Chinese people to build a “moderately prosperous society in an all-round way.”

In theory, Communist Party leaders are chosen at the party congress while government leaders are selected by the chief legislative body, the National People's Congress. However analysts say decisions made at the party congress invariably pave the way for changes at the top levels of government.

Vice President Xi Jinping is considered virtually certain to succeed President Hu Jintao in the top-ranking government post, while Vice Premier Li Keqiang is favored to take over from retiring Premier Wen Jiabao.