Unlike the U.S., where the suspense of who will enter the White House for the coming presidential term will continue to occupy voters’ minds until the very last minute, China’s masses knew for at least the past five years who would run the nation from 2013-2022.

Vice President Xi Jinping, the incoming leader-in-waiting, will be officially “elected” general secretary of the Communist Party of China during the 18th Party Congress, which is set to open on November 8. He will succeed Hu Jintao who ruled China as general secretary and president since 2003.

Xi, 59, the son of one of the leaders of the 1949 revolution that brought the party to power, will also be formally anointed the president during the upcoming National People’s Congress in March. During the upcoming Congress, which gathers both party and nonparty delegates. Vice Premier Li Keqiang, 57, is expected to succeed Wen Jiabao as premier. These two were chosen by party elders in closely veiled, behind-the-scenes negotiations that began half a decade ago.

Xi earned a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and a doctorate in Marxist theory from Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, China’s equivalent to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Li, who holds a law degree and a doctorate in economics from Peking University, will become the first Chinese premier who was educated in economics. Previous premiers tended to come from engineering backgrounds.

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