All this occurs as the party has rival factions seeking high office, some marching left while others go right—with some also motivated by the greater power and privileges it might bring them. The case of discredited politburo member Bo Xilai, awaiting trial on corruption and other charges, is more symptomatic of the problem than the aberration the party claims it to be. The next ruling committee is likely to be an amalgam of contending interests rather than a truly unified body with a clear vision extending beyond self-preservation. An unwarranted share, like the ousted Bo and incoming President Xi, are children of past communist leaders and known as “princelings.”
None of these challenges is beyond resolution. China remains a nation of many strengths. It’s safe to predict the party congress will see the new standing committee members file on stage on schedule in rank order—complete with identikit dark suits, red ties and uniformly dyed black hair—to present themselves to a waiting nation. But can they also bring new policies?
Robert Keatley is a former editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal and the South China Morning Post, both of Hong Kong.