China's ruling Communist Party leaders have convened a conclave to guide policy for the coming year and discuss how to bolster the country's rule of law.

Rule of law is a tricky subject in China because the party operates above the law and has shown no eagerness to change that. However, it is under pressure to improve the country's court system to address a sense among citizens that they have no true recourse in conflicts and disputes, including with local officials whom they believe have unfairly seized property.

The 205 members of the party's Central Committee opened their four-day meeting Monday, and no outcome is expected until Thursday. Political observers are watching for changes to place the party under the authority of the law, though many believe that won't happen.