Loory: The Communist Party of China, 73 million members strong, met in Beijing last week for its 17th Party Congress to consider a program that will guide the country for the next five years. The Communist Party rules China and is more important as a source of policy and leadership than the government. It operates mostly in secret, and its directives are not easily challenged. Hu Jintao, China’s leader, derives his real power as party general secretary, but he is also president and commander-in-chief of the military. Hu opened the meeting with an upbeat speech, discussing all the progress that China’s economy has made in the past five years. But he did say that one goal for the coming five years would be some economic shift from capital investment to improving the lot of consumers. That was taken as an acknowledgement that the benefits of economic progress in China were not trickling down fast enough to the Chinese people, particularly in the provincial areas. The party and state-controlled press have portrayed the Congress as an exercise in democracy. There were articles about how open media coverage of the meeting was because some 3,000 journalists from China and abroad were covering it. But the important decisions at this meeting will be made behind closed doors and may not be revealed to China and the world. How important is this meeting, and what is the outcome likely to be?
China’s Communist Party plans the country’s future direction
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