September 22, 2009 / 9:55 AM / in 9 years

China party scholar hints at Xi Jinping promotion

China's Vice-President Xi Jinping stands on the deck of the yacht "Hera" during a sightseeing cruise around Valletta's Grand Harbour February 21, 2009. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese Communist official on Tuesday held out the possibility that Vice President Xi Jinping could still be promoted to a military position, in a step toward ultimately taking over the nation’s top leadership post.

Some media had speculated that Xi, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2013, would be anointed vice chairman of the Central Military Commission at a party plenum last week, reinforcing his succession claim. However, the plenum closed last Friday with no word of any personnel changes.

If Xi rises through the ranks according to schedule, it could reduce worries about instability among the secretive inner circles of the Communist Party, which has no transparent mechanism for choosing its leaders.

“At the plenum, there was no reflection of personnel changes related to the party’s leadership of the military, because this was not included in the agenda for discussion,” Wang Changjiang, director general of the Central Party School’s department of education and research on party building, told reporters.

“But there will be personnel changes at some point,” he told a news conference designed to explain the decisions of the just-concluded plenum when asked about Xi’s possible promotion.

Wang refused to be drawn any further on possible mechanisms for such a promotion, or the timing of future meetings at which it might be decided.

The promotion could be announced at an expanded meeting of the Military Commission after the October 1 National Day celebration, Hong Kong media have reported, without giving an exact date.

When Hu took over the top party, military and government positions from his predecessor Jiang Zemin, it marked the first smooth transition of power since the Communist Party began ruling China in 1949.

The lack of any announcement of Xi getting the No. 2 job in the military commission suggested that Hu, who still has three years left in his term as party chief, would wait to begin ceding positions, and influence, to his likely successors.

Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Benjamin Kang Lim and Alex Richardson

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