With the beginning of the 18th National Congress of the People’s Republic of China yesterday, the world awaits the official announcement of Xi Jinping’s ascendancy to the leadership of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, as is widely expected. The question of who will be joining Xi Jinping at the top is what presently concerns most China watchers.

While China has opened up to the west, the process for leadership transition in the 83 million member Communist Party of China is largely unknown to outsiders. It is expected that a conservative cadre of leaders will take the reigns of the world’s second largest economy with a platform emphasizing stability and prosperity for the people of China.

Many worry that without some drastic situation requiring it to change that the Communist Party of China will largely remain entrenched in its current program of one-party, unchallenged rule. Of course, there are those who argue that without such liberalization the party could go the way of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Regardless, what happens in China no doubt has major ramifications for the world economy and would be a far different scenario than that of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

[Al Jazeera]