Chinese leaders have unveiled the new creme de la creme of the Communist Party at the end of its five-yearly Congress. The line-up includes two men likely to succeed the current President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao at the next Congress in 2012. Xi Jinping – who was party secretary in Shanghai – and Li Keqiang – who was head of a big industrial province in the North East – were catapulted to the Politburo’s Standing Committee, China’s top echelon of power.
At 54 and 52 years, their relative youth and high status have left observers in little doubt that they are favoured to take up the reins of power. Their promotions mark a growing grip on power for Hu Jintao, who has been trying to shed the influence of his predecessor Jiang Zemin.
But analysts say the mixture of appointments – some close to Hu, and some not so – reflects Hu’s wish to balance different interests.