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China's President Hu Jintao opens Communist Party congress

Outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao opened the week-long Communist Party congress with a warning of the dangers of corruption to Party rule.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has opened the long-awaited Communist Party congress with a warning about the potential dangers of corruption to Party rule.

The week-long 18th Communist Party congress, known as the "big 18th" in China, will see a once-a-decade power transition to the next generation of top Chinese leaders.

Beijing is under heavy security, with many government critics detained or under house arrest, and a variety of restrictions imposed on residents of the capital.

In a speech to more than 2,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People, Hu said that a failure to tackle corruption "could prove fatal to the Party," the BBC reported.

"If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the Party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state," he said.

On the eve of the congress, the once up-and-coming politician Bo Xilai was expelled from the Communist Party after a stunning fall from grace.

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"We must aim higher and work harder and continue to pursue development in a scientific way, promote social harmony and improve the people's lives," Hu said in his address.

Seated near Hu was Xi Jinping, widely expected to take over as president. Li Keqiang is expected to become premier after Wen Jiabao.

In what The New York Times described as a show of unity, Hu was accompanied by former President Jiang Zemin.

"With a slowing economy and major scandals plaguing the Party, it will be up to China's new leadership to maintain stability in the face of unprecedented challenges," wrote GlobalPost's Benjamin Carlson and Cain Nunns.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/121108/chinese-president-hu-jintao-opens-communist-party-congress-big-18th