For anyone curious about what’s going to happen next year in Beijing, read this ludicrously informative write-up by Peter Chovanec about exactly what this whole 2012 leadership switcheroo is all about:
Over the past few months, several people have written asking me to offer a short “primer” on China’s upcoming leadership transition, which begins next year. The handover to a new president and premier has generated plenty of speculation in the press, about who the leaders are and what is will all mean, but sometimes it’s useful to go back and fill in the very basics, since China has a unique and in some ways quite confusing political system.
The first and most important thing to understand about that political system is that it is composed of three parts. In the U.S., we have the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. In China there is the Party, the Army, and the State. Unlike in the U.S., where the three branches are co-equal and are specifically designed to check and balance each other’s powers, in China the Party is supreme and rules over the other two elements. China’s “leadership transition” involves coordinated handovers of power involving all three parts of the political system.
He then goes on to lay out exactly what’s what. Essential reading.