Party begins ‘secretive’ process of selecting new central committee

As many as 2,270 delegates attending the Communist Party of China's once-in-five-year conclave Sunday began a highly secretive process of electing the new central committee — its members and alternate members — which will in turn elect the new political bureau and the leadership which will lead the country for the next 10 years.

While none expect a surprise on General Secretary Hu Jintao's successor — it is widely believed that vice president Xi Jingping will take over the baton — all eyes are on whether Hu will fade into the oblivion or continue as the Chairman of the One, however, wonders about the post-retirement lives of the leaders who will be stepping down..

One, however, wonders about the post-retirement lives of the leaders who will be stepping down. Communists never retire, Jyoti Basu, a late Indian CPM patriarch used to say.

In China, it's a mixed bag. Jiang Zemin — who stepped down as General Secretary of the CPC in 2002 and a year later as president of the country, making way for Hu — continues to be actively involved. Long retired and rumoured to be unwell, the 86-year-old made a surprise appearance at the opening ceremony of the congress and sat next to Hu, leading to speculation that he still calls the shots in the CPC.

According to a report by Southern Weekend, a Guangzhou weekly, some leaders travel around the country to relax, write books and learn the arts. Jiang had immersed himself in visiting religious places, watching operas and concerts.

Former vice- premier Li Lanqing, 80, sought a normal life after quitting politics in 2002. "A report in March by a Guangxi government news portal said Li tried to bargain over the price of groceries, and applied for a job in a restaurant, but the owner had identified him. Like Jiang, the former vice-premier spends most of his time on the arts," the weekly said.

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