Power struggles make picking mainland China's next leaders a challenging task for the CCP
By Ching Cheong, The Straits Times/Asia NewsNetwork
November 1, 2012, 11:23 am TWN
More than 350 top cadres of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will gather for the seventh and last time tomorrow to finalize the leadership succession plan to be adopted at the 18th Party Congress, which opens next Thursday.
The plenum, as the gathering is called, will have a daunting task, given the short time it has.
Over the next few days, it will pick the select few who will sit on the CCP's powerful Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), which essentially rules China.
Besides the PSC, the plenum will also have to finalize the line- up of the Politburo, which is a rung below the PSC, and the Central Secretariat.
At the same time, it will need to vet the members of the next Central Committee, which is the highest authority within the CCP, to make sure they do not include those who are sympathizers of disgraced former Chongqing chief Bo Xilai.
The final makeup of the PSC has yet to be settled, owing to the fierce jostling for power between the princelings and the tuanpai, or those with ties to the Communist Youth League (CYL), which is President Hu Jintao's power base.
No fewer than six name lists have been proposed, reflecting the intense competition. There are 10 candidates in the running for the seven PSC seats, reduced from the current nine.
The last seat is apparently the target of a fierce tussle involving three regional party chiefs: Wang Yang of Guangdong (CYL), Yu Zhengsheng of Shanghai (princeling), and Zhang Gaoli of Tianjin (a protege of former president Jiang Zemin).
Given this situation, where there are 10 candidates for only seven seats, China's next top leader Xi Jinping is said to have suggested using differential voting to determine the final seven. This means that of the 10, the seven with the highest number of votes will get into the PSC.