A Chinese paramilitary police officer secures the front gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing on September 28, 2017. 
China will convene its 19th Party Congress on October 18, state media said, a key meeting held every five years where President Xi Jinping is expected to receive a second term as the ruling Communist Partys top leader. / AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS ASFOURI        (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

'Chess in an impenetrable black box': Who really holds the power in China?

Updated 9:38 PM ET, Mon October 9, 2017

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(CNN)Unlike the gossipy, open democracies of Western societies, it is almost impossible to know who truly holds power in the opaque world of Chinese politics.

The country is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, in a one-party system, making whoever occupies the highest positions in the party among the most powerful.
Power isn't just held by the politicians either -- influential businessmen and entrepreneurs, the pioneers of China's economic rise, are also fighting for a seat at the table.
As Beijing gets ready for the biggest event in China's political calendar, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party on October 18, we polled 10 experts, asking them to pick who they thought were the top five most powerful people in China.
Their answers on who really pulls the strings were varied, and shed light on the upcoming Congress -- akin to a closed-door election when China's next generation leaders are expected to be unveiled.
Here's who makes up the top five, according to the policy advisers, academics and journalists we spoke to.

5. Li Keqiang

In theory, Premier Li is number two in China's power structure, but his influence is far from assured.