What happens at China’s party congress?
Every five years, China holds what is formally called the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. While most decisions are made well before party congresses, the meetings matter because they’re where the Communist Party announces who will run the country for the next five years. The twentieth party congress begins on October 16.
The party has more than ninety million members and is organized in pyramid-type structure. Near the top is the twenty-five-person Political Bureau, or Politburo, which is made up of military officers, provincial leaders, and central party officials. Out of this group is drawn the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, which makes most of the crucial decisions. The head of the Standing Committee is the party’s general secretary, Xi Jinping.
At each congress, some members of the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee retire or are shunted aside. Some depart because they have surpassed the party’s informal age limits; most people retire by sixty-eight. Others leave for more opaque reasons, perhaps because they have not done a good job or simply aren’t in favor with the top leadership.