The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will begin today - November 8, 2012. It will be attended by 2,270 delegates. The following are changes in the makeup of delegates, compared with that at the 17th Party congress in 2007.

i   The number of leading officials at different levels accounts for 69.5 percent of the total delegates to the 18th Party congress, 2.1 percentage points lower than that at the previous congress.

i   The number of grassroots-level delegates accounts for 30.5 percent, up 2.1 percentage points.

i   The percentage of workers remarkably increases to 7.4 percent. Their number grows from 51 five years ago to 169, including 26 farmer-turned workers.

i   The average age of delegates is 52. Those under the age of 35 account for 5 percent, up 1.9 percentage points.

i   The Party members, who joined the CPC after the country’s reform and opening up in the late 1970s, constitute the majority of delegates.

i   Those who joined the Party after November 1976 account for 72.2 percent, up 20.5 percentage points.

It is expected that about seven members of the Political Bureau of the CPC would be replaced, and Xi Jinping, China’s Vice President, may become its General Secretary and Chairman. However, there will be no immediate change of President or Premier. But perhaps, after a few months or so. Despite these structural changes, the policies are expected to remain the same. Indeed, the continuity of policies for ensuring economic progress and social development has been a hallmark of the Chinese government over the past three decades. Because of this it has reaped huge dividends and there is no reason why the CPC would abandon them.

Since 1978, for instance, the CPC has ensured the continuity of policies that have played a pivotal role in China’s development, in addition to bringing millions of people above the poverty line. The new leadership will continue to maintain social stability and follow a foreign policy that has contributed to world peace and security.

Further, the impact of decisions taken by the Chinese leadership is important not only for China, but also many other nations because it is the second largest economy in the world and its policies affect the world at large.

Against this backdrop, Pakistan and China are time-tested friends. A decade ago, the total volume of Pak-China trade was only about $2 billion. But in 2011, it reached $10.6 billion. In the past four years, the overall trade increased by 70 percent; whereas, Pakistan’s exports to China have doubled to $2.2 billion.

More so, the two countries have cooperated in many fields, including defence, economy, trade, technology etc. In the fifth round of the Pak-China Strategic Dialogue, which just ended in Beijing, China pledged to consistently support Pakistan’s efforts to safeguard its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. In the same vein, Pakistan reiterated its  unwavering support on issues related to China’s core interests such as the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands. It is also important to add that the Pakistani top civilian and military leadership has already met with the to be new President, Xi Jinping, and Premier, Li Keqiang, several times. In a recent press conference in Beijing, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary expressed confidence that “with the induction of the new leadership, China will continue its march towards progress and prosperity.”

In a recent interview to China Daily, Pakistan’s former Ambassador Masood Khan said: “In the past 10 years, the Chinese people have demonstrated their achievements. They’ve gone to space. They have conquered, crossed new frontiers. The skyline all over China has changed.......You have organised these very impressive mega events with splendor. Some of your progress is cited as unprecedented in the history of the world. So, I think that this rhythm of going into the future is strong, and the new leadership will inherit this mentality of fast development, this mentality of working towards cooperative foreign policy - see this world as a cooperative world. So, we are supportive.”

The writer is a press attaché at the Pakistani Embassy in China. Email: