(MENAFN - Arab News) China's leadership transition officially edged ahead Saturday, with the executive body of the Communist Party Congress forwarding a list of names to congress delegates for review.
State media reported that the congress's presidium, 41 current and former members of the leadership, approved the candidate list for the Central Committee and sent it to the delegates. The delegates will cast votes before the congress closes Wednesday to choose the Central Committee, a roughly 350-member body.
The Central Committee, in turn, will select the top leadership.
The move is largely a formality, as is the congress itself. Deciding the lineup of leading bodies falls to a small group of powerbrokers.
Vice President Xi Jinping has been all-but formally announced to replace President Hu Jintao as party chief and president.
China Central Television showed Hu addressing the meeting of the presidium, which was presided over by Xi.
Candidates for the Central Committee outnumber seats by only a small portion, giving the 2,268 congress delegates little choice except on the margins.
In addition to the name list for Central Committee members, the meeting also forwarded candidate lists for the party's internal watchdog agency, state media reported.
While ties between China and Taiwan may be closer than at any time since they split in a civil war, the staid, formal Communist Party congress highlights how far apart the two sides are politically.
"Taiwan's democracy has learned from the United States," said Wang Yingying, who moved from eastern China to Taiwan in 2005 with her Taiwanese spouse. "We in China cannot vote for our national leaders. Mainland politics are backward, Taiwan's democracy is much better." With a population 50 times bigger and an economy 15 times greater, China overshadows Taiwan in almost every respect. But one area where Taiwan is envied by many in China is its freewheeling political system.
Split since Mao Zedong's Communist forces drove Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist government from the mainland, China and Taiwan used to engage in a propaganda and ideological war against each other. Since Taiwan jettisoned one-party rule in the 1980s and moved toward democracy, the competition for hearts and minds continues but is more low-key.
"There is now no excuse for the Chinese government to tell its people that Chinese culture is somehow at odds with democracy," said Emile Sheng, who served as culture minister during Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's just-completed first term. "Taiwan's experience proves this wrong."