Scarlet neck-ties. Hammers and sickles. Pendulous red curtains. President Hu Jintao summarizing an entire decade in a single speech, deafeningly entitled: "Firmly March on the Path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive to Complete the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in all Respects". It's China's 18th Communist Party Congress, a week-long, invitation-only orgy of ceremony, king-making and communist iconography.
And women. Punctuating the festivities throughout, as is traditional in political proceedings around the world, will be a few decorative young females. With studied grace, tight (red) outfits and identical movements, Beijing's "hostesses" moved through today's opening ceremonies to distribute tea and otherwise warm up the atmosphere.
Their squeaky-clean presentation and careful choreography may set an example for the Communist party, whose ranks have gone crooked with scandals of "hidden fortune," murder, and smut, in recent months. Hence Hu Jintao's exhortations to officials to "never seek any privilege" and to "observe the code of conduct on clean governance". At the end of the week, Hu himself will be replaced by Xi Jinping as the new King of Everything.