AP News

Ahead of handover, China ruling party shows unity


BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese Communist Party has been reviewing preparations for an upcoming leadership transition, saying it will amend its constitution when it holds a key meeting in a few weeks.

The announcement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency comes after the party's 25-member Politburo met Monday. Xinhua did not provide details about the amendments.

Brookings Institute expert on elite Chinese politics Cheng Li says he believes the party could be considering strengthening the rule of law. That would enable the party to seem more accountable to the public after a messy scandal that toppled rising political star Bo Xilai and exposed sharp infighting in the party's uppermost ranks.

"The general idea is, in the wake of the recent Bo Xilai crisis and other challenges, the party needs to uplift the confidence of the public," Li said.

Bo was one of China's best-known politicians until he fell from grace earlier this year when a close aide disclosed that Bo's wife had murdered a British businessman.

Bo was expelled from the party last month, allowing a transition of power to the next generation of leaders without the scandal hanging over it. The opening of the party congress, when President Hu Jintao will step down as party boss and Vice President Xi Jinping will succeed him, is scheduled for Nov. 8.

During that meeting, party leaders will make strategic plans with a focus on "problems that are emerging during the country's development at its current stage and the issues that concern people's interests in the most immediate and realistic manner," Xinhua said.

Nottingham University China expert Steve Tsang said the announcement of party constitutional amendments shows that top leaders are finding agreement on some issues despite what has likely been intense jockeying for positions at the highest levels.

The amendments will be submitted to a Nov. 1 meeting of the party's Central Committee before being introduced at the congress, Xinhua said.

"Whatever they present at the party congress would be something that would already be agreed on and approved of by the various power blocs within the top of the party," Tsang said. He said it showed that "the new leadership is likely to be able to work together in spite of the intensity in the struggle for power in the last few months."


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