Thursday: The Chinese Communist Party begins a once-in-a-decade transition of power.

What's at stake: Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as party general secretary, and would take over as China's president early next year. However, Hu could continue to retain control of the military until 2014.

Presumptive leader: Xi, 59, is married to Peng Liyuan, one of China's most popular performers who holds a civilian rank equal to that of a major general, and has a daughter at Harvard. He has close ties with the armed forces. His father is Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary fighter who helped shelter Mao Zedong and became the head of the Communist Party's propaganda machine. In the 1960s, he ran afoul of Mao and was jailed. At 16, Xi Jinping was banished to the countryside for seven years to work with farmers. He made a name for himself with attacks on corruption, yet some of his relations have been linked to wealth amassed through their connections.