Chinese Parliament approved the nomination of Vice President Xi Jinping for the vice-chairmanship of the powerful Central Military Commission, paving the way for him to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2012.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which is regarded as the "rubber stamp" legislature of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), gave its formal approval to the Party's nomination of Xi, who would be the second civilian besides Hu to be part of the all powerful military body, state television reported.
Hu, who was scheduled to retire along with the present set of top party leaders, including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, is the Chairman of the Commission. Though 57-year-old Xi was regarded the natural successor to Hu, as traditionally Vice President succeeded the President after the completion of two terms in office by the later, doubts arose last year when he was not appointed to this post.
It had sparked speculation that Hu may prefer someone else to be his successor. Resting all speculation, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee on October 18 appointed Xi to the CMC, putting him in line to succeed Hu as Chinese President and Party Chief in 2012.
Xi's promotion last week was announced at the close of the crucial CPC plenum which also pledged to make "steady and vigorous" efforts to promote political restructuring, official Xinhua news agency reported.
The Chinese Vice-President is following Communist party tradition in the footsteps of Hu, who also became President and party chief after heading the Central Military Commission (CMC). The body oversees 2.3 million soldiers of the People's Liberation Army.
Besides being the son of a former top Communist leader, Xi also became well known in China after he married Peng Liyuan, a well-known Chinese folk singer who was widely popular in the 1980s.
His political career took off after be came close to former President Jiang Zemin and later had successful stints as the secretary of the Communist Party's Shanghai unit. He also won praise for successfully holding the 2008 Beijing Olympics.