The 18th National Congress opens Thursday in Beijing to elect Chinas next president. Incumbent leader Hu Jintao (below left) talks to his predecessor Jiang Zemin. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (above), Hu`s successor, passes them by. Jiang bequeathed the presidency to Hu in 2002, but is said to be the real power behind the scenes in exerting a powerful influence over high-ranking officials for the Xi administration as a leader of the "Shanghai clique." The congressional session will end Wednesday next week.