More than two thousand delegates met last week at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to begin the decadal transition of leadership for the country. Stepping aside as Communist Party general secretary, Hu Jintao was replaced by Vice President Xi Jinping, who immediately takes the helm at the party and will assume the presidency in March 2013 during the annual National People’s Congress meetings. In an unexpected move, Hu gave up his role as head of the Central Military Commission which also goes to Xi. The Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in size from nine members to seven, with new members selected from the larger Central Committee. The new Politburo members will also assume other new government post next year during the National People’s Congress meetings in Beijing.

The embassy of China in the U.S. issued a statement quoting a congratulatory note to Xi Jinping from President Obama saying “I recall your successful visit to the United States last February, and the positive and constructive discussions we had about the future of U.S.-China relations. I look forward to working with you in the years ahead to continue building a cooperative partnership that benefits both of our peoples and advances peace and prosperity, especially through practical cooperation in regional and global economic and security challenges.”