China passes leadership to older, more conservative lineup; North Korea suspected of giving arms to Syria; Israel-Gaza violence escalates; Eurozone slides into double-dip recession; and more
Top of the Agenda: China Passes Reins to Older, More Conservative Leadership
China's ruling Communist Party concluded its Eighteenth National Congress on Thursday, unveiling what commentators say is an older, more conservative leadership (Reuters) lineup in the seven-person Politburo Standing Committee led by new party chief Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang. Most notably, two candidates with strong reform credentials—Guangdong party boss Wang Yang and party organization head Li Yuanchao—missed the cut, along with the sole woman candidate Liu Yandong. Observers say the new leadership, which includes North Korea-educated Zhang Dejiang, favors cautious economic reforms (BBC)  and will likely steer clear of any radical policy changes.
"Let's face it. China's 18th Party Congress was a heartbreaker . In terms of personnel, it was a triumph of the Party's conservative clique; and in terms of policy, it was a victory for more of the same. It didn't have to be that way, but the Party elders elected to preserve their legacy at the expense of opening the door to real change," writes CFR's Elizabeth Economy.
"In recent years, the notion of "political reform " became a kind of taboo subject. The mere suggestion of it was considered risky, let alone any meaningful discourse on viable frameworks. Leftists would be very happy to completely eliminate the concept from their vocabulary. The fact that the party congress report contains the idea sends a clear signal that there is no question about the necessity of political reform. What is open for discussion now is how current institutions can reform. People who care about political reform must spot the trends and ride the tide," writes Hu Shuli of Caixin.
"The new line-up shows that 86-year old former leader Jiang Zemin still has important influence, because at least four out of seven new members are widely seen as his allies. Meanwhile the outgoing leader Hu Jintao's three allies - Li Yuanchao, Liu Yuandong and Wang Yang - did not make it into the Standing Committee. Mr. Hu has also given up his post as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, indicating he will fully retire from his political posts and stay away from political life too. The prospect of political reform now looks more unlikely as most of the new leaders are regarded as political conservatives ," writes Raymond Li for the BBC.
North Korea Suspected of Giving Arms to Syria
South Korean authorities intercepted a shipment of North Korean missile components on a Chinese ship to Syria in May, a move that violates United Nations sanctions (AFP) , according to Security Council diplomats. North Korea is barred from trading nuclear and missile technology under UN Security Council sanctions imposed after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Israel-Gaza  violence escalates
Eurozone slides into double-dip recession 
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.