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Changes Loom in China's Congress - 2002-11-13

China will unveil its new leadership this week and there are expected to be some changes with its long time President Jiang Zemin stepping down to retire. Our Chris Simkins has more on how China’s communist party is trying to lure private sector business people and entrepreneurs in to the Party fold.

For the first time in more than a decade there will be leadership change in China.

NATURAL SOUND-of delegates

In Beijing Communist Party delegates are concluding their sixteenth congress, mapping out a future direction for China and electing new party leaders.

Most of China’s top bosses are relinquishing their posts. But there are some younger members of the Chinese Communist Party who will emerge as new leaders. At the top, Hu Jintao, China’s current vice president and a man widely expected to be named the new Communist Party chief. He would succeed President Jiang Zemin, who is expected to retire as President early next year.

The political structure in China is changing and so too is the way the party does its business. China is vowing to ease restrictions, allowing capitalism to flourish and level the playing field between private business and state run enterprises.

Thirty-nine year old Zeng Wei is an eligible candidate for a spot in the Communist party. He is one of China’s new capitalist elite, a wealthy businessman who heads a large real estate company in Beijing.

A one-time government planner turned entrepreneur, Wei says he welcomes the party’s move to bring in talented people from different backgrounds.

“I think the strength of all social strata to build up the country is in line with the will of the people and the trend of the day. I’m convinced a love for this nation is most important and then everyone will enthusiastically respond to the party’s call.

For now Wei is holding back from becoming a full-fledged communist party member because he fears it might hurt some of his business opportunities.

I might consider joining the party but at the moment we are engaged in international economic affairs. With China’s entry in to the WTO there are foreign companies coming into the country and we want to go out. So when we go to the West, to America to Europe, I don’t want them because they don’t know the situation in China and that of the communist party to think we are a monster.

Wearing his silk suit and driving his brand new Porsche automobile, Wei hardly fits the profile of a typical party member in China. But in the years ahead there will be more like him as Chinese society changes politically and economically.