Beijing: Ten years after his retirement as President and Chinese Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin continued to be "backroom boss" of the ruling party earning the tag of "king maker" as most of leaders who got elected to the Central Committee on Wednesday were reportedly close to him.
Unlike most of the Chinese Communist Party leaders, "Big brother" Jiang did not fade away into leisure and obscurity but instead retained strong influence on the Party and military emerging as the third most powerful leader after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
86-year-old Jiang took the centre stage of the week-long 18th Party Congress both at its inaugural and valedictory meetings sitting between outgoing President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Most of the new leaders including Xi Jinping who would be taking over the mental of the party tomorrow along with other newly elected were reportedly selected with his consent.
Observers here say Jiang`s loyalists make up the most of the 371 member Central Committee which was elected. It would have a strong influence on the selection of 25 member Politburo and nine member Standing Committee to be announced tomorrow.
His influence was visible at the Party meet today as leaders rushed to shake hands with him when he left the imposing conference hall of the Great Hall of People while Hu, who retired after completing 10 years made a quiet exit after collecting his papers.
It is to be seen whether Hu would be quitting as Chairman of the powerful Military Commission tomorrow. Jiang retained it for two years even after handing over power to Hu in 2002.
Some reports said Hu has decided to quit all posts including as Military Chief to give his successor to be Xi Jinping a head-start.
If Hu quits, Xi could emerge as powerful leader holding the offices of General Secretary of the Party, President of country and Chairman of the Military Commission, which controls the military command.