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China Vice President out of new Party lineup

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Oct 21 (Reuters) Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong retired from the Communists' upper ranks today, bolstering Party boss Hu Jintao's grip on power and clearing the way for a younger generation of leaders.

Zeng, 68, a powerful Party organisation boss long associated with Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, was left off the newly elected Central Committee of 204 full members, Xinhua news agency reported.

Delegates wound up their five-yearly Congress by approving writing Hu's trademark slogans into the Party charter, overshadowing those of Jiang.

Hu was also the top vote-getter in the tightly controlled ballot, winning all but two of the 2,235 votes, a delegate said.

Zeng's departure from the Committee along with two other leaders, security chief Luo Gan, 72, and anti-corruption boss Wu Guanzheng, 69, indicates Hu will be able to announce the promotion of potential successors soon after the Congress ends.

Vice Premier Wu Yi -- one of the few women in China's political elite and an experienced trade tsar -- was left off as well, indicating she will also likely leave government next March.

But Jia Qinglin, 67, a long-time ally of Jiang, remains.

The full members of the new Committee will in turn appoint a Politburo of a few dozen members and a Politburo Standing Committee, the innermost ring of power with possibly nine members, which will be revealed on Monday.

The Party charter will now feature Hu's promises to create a ''harmonious society'' cleansed of conflict and a ''scientific outlook on development'' which balances economic growth and environmental and welfare protections.

That Hu has now been able to elevate his key ideas with many years still in office shows his growing influence, said analysts.

Hu's predecessor, Jiang, took 13 years before he was able to push his trademark notions into the Party charter shortly before his retirement in 2002.

''Hu has managed to get it in after only five years, and he has five more years to use it to shape the political environment and influence China's development pattern,'' said Joseph Fewsmith of Boston University.

But more than slogans, the membership of the elite bodies will tell how much power Hu wields and how he intends to use it, and who Hu's potential successors and rivals are.

''Hu has the power; it's now up to him to decide how he wants to use it and what he wants to do,'' said Li Datong, a former editor at a Party newspaper who now publishes political analyses.

''But Hu won't be adventurous. That's not in his nature, and the Party and country have already formed interest groups that any leader would find it very difficult to move.'' Li Keqiang, Party boss of the northeastern industrial province of Liaoning, who worked under Hu in the Communist Youth League, is a front-runner for promotion.

But the new inner core is also likely to include Shanghai Party boss Xi Jinping and other, younger faces who do not necessarily have longstanding ties with Hu.

The new Party line-up also did not include Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan, in charge of industry, or Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan, indicating they will give up their posts next year.


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