China Communist Party officially opens 18th congress
BEIJING - China's ruling Communist Party kicked off its all-important national congress on Thursday morning, an event set to produce the country's new generational leadership for the next decade.
A somewhat lighthearted mood prevailed as a total 2,268 delegates started arriving and posing for photos outside the Great Hall of the People in capital Beijing despite the heavy security and chilly weather.
But the 18th Party Congress is a serious affair. Held every five years, the event will bid goodbye to outgoing President Hu Jintao and his leadership team, take stock of the country's progress under his charge since 2002 and chart its future direction under incoming leader Xi Jinping.
The real political excitement comes a day after the congress ends next Wednesday when Mr Xi's new leadership line-up will be unveiled to the world.