Chinese Parl meets ahead of leadership changes

Beijing: Bracing up for leadership changes at all levels of the ruling Communist Party and the government, China`s Parliament today commenced its annual meeting, the last for President Hu Jintao, who is set to retire this year.

The Chinese People`s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a largely ceremonial body, held its inaugural meeting ahead of the main legislature`s – National People`s Congress (NPC), session that kicks off on Monday.

Regarded as the rubber stamp legislature, the CPPCC with over 2,200 nominated members, however has on its rolls some of the rich, influential as well as celebrities in its ranks, including the Panchen Lama, whom China is purportedly projecting as a successor to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama.

The inaugural session was attended today by the entire top brass of the ruling Communist Party of China, (CPC), headed by President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who would be retiring by the end of this year to pave the way for new leadership.

Vice President Xi Jinping, who is officially projected to succeed Hu both as head of the CPC and the government also attended today`s meeting along with Vice Premier Li Keqiang, tipped to succeed Wen.

The two would form part of the new nine member standing committee of the politburo which would be elected at CPC Congress in November this year and formally take office from early next year to govern the country for the next 10 years.

Hu and Wen, both were widely regarded as reform minded Communists would be retiring after a decade long tenure.

Today`s session started with the address by CPPCC National Committee Chairman Jia Qinglin, who gave a broad outline of activities conducted by the largely ceremonial organisation. "The CPPCC made important contributions to implementing the Twelfth Five-Year Plan and winning new victories in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects" during the period, he said.

Jia said the CPPCC also contributed to giving impetus to the country`s economic development and cultural reform, promoting social harmony and stability, strengthening relations with compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and with overseas Chinese besides expanding China`s foreign contacts.