After the congress ends, the Central Committee meets to select a Politburo, roughly 25 members, and from that group, the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power. The current standing committee has nine members, though party-connected academics say that may be whittled to seven this time. Two members are considered shoo-ins: Xi and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is expected to be named premier. The Central Committee also appoints the party commission that oversees the military. A critical question is whether Hu will stay as military commission head. His predecessor, Jiang, did so, hanging on for more than two years and casting a shadow over Hu's efforts to consolidate power.
Image: Delegates listen to the speech of Chinese president Hu Jintao at the opening of the 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China on 8th November, 2012. Vice President Xi Jinping had moved closer to taking the reins of power and is expected to replace President Hu Jintao as party chief in a once-a-decade power transition, setting the stage for his promotion to president of the world's most populous nation, expected by March 2013.