Ally of China`s next leader named to key position

Li Zhanshu, 62, has been appointed director of the general office of the party`s central committee.

Last Updated: Sep 02, 2012, 00:27 AM IST

Beijing: China`s ruling Communist Party on Saturday promoted an ally of the country`s likely next president to a key position ahead of a party congress where a new generation of leaders will be named.

Li Zhanshu, 62, has been appointed director of the general office of the party`s central committee, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Li is thought to be a close ally of Xi Jinping, who is expected to become party leader and the country`s next president. As head of the executive office, Li will be responsible for personnel arrangements for the party`s top leaders.

He has been serving as the party chief for southwest China`s Guizhou province since 2010.

He will replace Ling Jihua, a loyal aide and confidante to outgoing President Hu Jintao. Xinhua said Ling has been named the head of the United Front Work Department, another key position in the central committee.
Ling, 55, is thought young enough to further rise in the party ranks, likely giving Hu continued influence in the party.

Ling accompanies the president when he travels. Ling has also tried to burnish the public image of the usually stiff and distant Hu.

After the massive Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Ling studied Premier Wen Jiabao`s tours of the disaster area that resonated with the public and then tried to construct a similar state-managed tour for Hu.

PTI