The spotlight at China’s leadership congress next month will fall on the elite line-up installed to steer the world’s No. 2 economy. But another lesser-watched group will also advance, and an eventual successor to President Xi Jinping is likely among them.

They’ve been called the "Luckiest Generation": Communist Party cadres born in the 1970s. They missed both the Mao Zedong era, which unleashed havoc on education and the economy, and the high unemployment levels and housing crises facing today’s graduates.

Instead, China’s startling economic rise carried them into university and to the top of industries from finance to commodities. They built careers during a brief window of internet freedom, economic integration through the World Trade Organization and global mobility — freedoms Xi has constricted with censorship, trade actions and COVID-19 border closures.