Key Chinese Communist Party congress to start Oct. 18

China says a key Communist Party meeting held once every five years will start on Oct. 18.

Thursday's announcement of the 19th National Party Congress by the official Xinhua News Agency marks the formal countdown to the meeting at which President Xi Jinping will begin his second five-year term as head of the ruling party.

It will also see the selection of new members of key bodies, including the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee that Xi is expected to pack with allies. The congress typically runs for about 10 days.

Xi has emerged as China's most powerful leader in decades, dominating the party, government, military and state economy. The congress will also be scrutinized for signs that Xi intends to remain beyond the 10-year terms served by his predecessor.