Thousands of delegates from all over China have gathered in Beijing for an annual legislative session that will oversee the country's once-in-a-decade leadership change.

China's new President Xi Jinping will formally take over from Hu Jintao. Li Keqiang is expected to take over from Premier Wen Jiabao. The congress also will appoint other top officials and approve the policies already made behind closed doors.

After being elected as head of the Communist Party's Central Committee in November, Mr. Xi made pledges to curb corruption, raise living standards and create a fairer society. Local media report that at a party meeting Monday he called for economic development based on innovation to make the Asian country a world economic leader.

China's new leadership will face an increasingly vocal citizenry that demands action on corruption, human rights, education and pollution.

Foreign observers are watching for any changes of policies on China's growing military, on its powerful state enterprises and on individual freedoms.

Mr. Xi, former vice president, was elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the military commission in November of last year. He impressed the Chinese with his talk about fighting corruption and closing a wealth gap at a time when some of China's top politicians became mired in scandal.

During the two-week session, 3,000 delegates in the congress rarely debate policies. They mostly serve as a rubber stamp parliament for budgetary and other decisions made by the top communist leaders.