After a year of turmoil, the Communist Party will convene its 18th Congress on November 8th in Beijing. If all goes according to plan, 2,270 delegates will elect a new Central Committee.
On the day following the close of the Congress, the new Central Committee will convene the First Plenum to appoint the next leadership, specifically a new Politburo, Central Military Commission, and Secretariat. All eyes will be on who steps out from behind the curtain—literally—as the new Politburo Standing Committee is unveiled. Analysts universally believe the first person to appear will be Vice President Xi Jinping. That will mean he is the party’s new general secretary, the leader of China.
This leadership transition, from the so-called Fourth Generation to the Fifth, was supposed to be uneventful, predictable even. According to the accepted view, the Communist Party had institutionalized its politics with rules, guidelines, practices, and limits. Even critics of the regime accepted this storyline.