BEIJING — China’s Communist Party gathers on Oct. 15 for its five-yearly Congress, the country’s most important political event. Following are key facts about the 17th Party Congress. WHAT IS IT? A gathering of the Communist Party elite from around the country. Delegates meet to endorse the broad direction of national policies and formally elect the Party’s — and therefore the country’s — top leadership. THIS YEAR’S SIGNIFICANCE President Hu Jintao will receive another five-year term, thereby endorsing his push to limit the social and environmental side-effects of China’s breakneck economic boom. Hu also is seen fending off opposition by installing allies, including a possible hand-picked successor, into top positions. AGENDA Hu will review the government’s performance and push for another five years of his policies. The Congress also will elect the Central Committee, which in turn chooses the powerful Politburo. Results of the highly secretive proceedings are announced after the Congress ends. DELEGATES
2,217 have been chosen to attend the Congress, mostly top officials from national, provincial and local governments and party posts, the military, and state-owned industry. Another 28 percent are from “grassroots” levels such as workers, doctors, farmers and teachers, part of the party’s attempts to show a more democratic face. DURATION About one week. NOTABLE PAST CONGRESSES 1st Congress: Held in Shanghai, 1921. Its 13 delegates, including a young Mao Zedong, formally approved the Party’s platform for the first time.
7th Congress: Held at the Communist redoubt in Yan’an in northern China in 1945, it named Mao undisputed party leader and enshrined his “thought” as party dogma.
12th Congress: Beijing, 1982. Deng Xiaoping puts forward his ideas for a shift to capitalism and away from the ideological campaigns of the Mao years.
16th Congress: Beijing, 2002. Hu formerly made party leader, but his predecessor Jiang Zemin stacks the Politburo with his own allies.