The identity of the Chinese politician who will succeed Hu Jintao in the top job of Chinese politics is not as clear cut as previous successions have been. Hu is due to step down in 2013, and there are several contenders for his 'throne'. However, many analysts have been putting their money on Vice-President Xi Jinping to be the future leader of the People's Republic.
At the close of the Central Committee's Fifth plenary session, Xi's odds dramatically improved. The fact that he was not elevated to the Central Military Commission (CMC) at the last plenary session was came as bit of a surprise to those who were predicting his rise to power in Beijing. However, to much expectation, this month's proceedings have seen Xi appointed as Vice-Chairman of the CMC, a sure sign that the Vice-President is on the way up. In much the same way as North Korea's Kim Jong-un was recently given senior military and political positions to signal his new status as Kim Jong-il's heir apparent, so Xi Jinping has been given more authority to prepare for a handover of power.
This does not mean that he will definitely be the man to succeed Hu in three years time. The composition of the future leadership is still uncertain, although it is likely that Xi will have a major role in it. But, there seems no other candidate now as well positioned to push for China's highest political office (General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party), especially as Xi also has a positive public image in China.