BEIJING - Delegates to China's Communist Party congress will offer the first clues to a generational leadership succession on Wednesday after a preliminary vote on replacements for President Hu Jintao and others this week.

After days of turgid speeches and rhetorical displays of party unity, the five-yearly congress will almost certainly approve Hu's "state of the nation" work report and an as yet unknown revision to the party charter.

The 2,270 carefully vetted delegates will vote in a new Central Committee, a ruling council with around 200 full members and 170 or so alternate members with no voting rights, as the congress formally ends. At least eight percent of candidates were cut in an initial vote on Tuesday.

The committee will in turn, on Thursday, appoint a Politburo of a few dozen members and a Politburo Standing Committee, the innermost ring of power with possibly seven members, reduced from the current nine.

Vice President Xi Jinping has long been expected to take over from Hu, first as party chief and then as president when parliament meets for its annual session in March. Vice Premier Li Keqiang is Premier Wen Jiabao's anointed successor.

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