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China's secretive conclave fades to background under Xi

Big decisions ahead of Beidaihe meeting leave party elders with little clout

Chinese President Xi Jinping stands between former presidents Hu Jintao and Zhang Zemin on Tiananmen Gate in October 2019. Current and retired Communist Party leaders usually meet in August at Beidaihe.

BEIJING -- A series of big policy announcements in recent weeks by Chinese President Xi Jinping have fueled speculation that a secret annual gathering of who's who in Chinese politics may be cut unusually short this year, if it happens at all.

Current and retired leaders of the Communist Party descend upon Beidaihe every August for the conclave that sets the political agenda for the coming year. But as of Thursday, there were no reports of any of them arriving at the beachside town, let alone of any meeting.

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