China's ruling Communist Party has said that its highly anticipated congress would last a week and signaled that Vice President Xi Jinping had moved closer to taking the reins of power.
Xi was tapped for a key post overseeing the congress, which occurs every five years and opens on Thursday.
At the meeting, he is expected to replace President Hu Jintao as party chief in a once-a-decade power transition that will be watched around the world.
"The preparatory meeting passed the appointment of Comrade Xi Jinping as secretary-general of the congress," said party spokesman Cai Mingzhao, adding that the next set of leaders would be unveiled at the end of the meeting.
The move likely signals that Xi's much-expected move toward the country's top leadership post is on track.
Xi, 59, has been second in command to Hu since 2008. His likely appointment to head the all-powerful party will set the stage for his promotion to president of the world's most populous nation, expected next March.
Xi and the rest of the future leadership take the reins amid growing pressure for the party to reform to curb rising corruption and spur economic growth, which recently slowed to its lowest quarterly rate since 2009.