Wang Qishan, ally of China's President Xi Jinping, elected to new position

Wang Qishan, a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been appointed a delegate for the annual meeting of China's Parliament. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - Former Chinese anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan has been elected as a deputy to the National People's Congress, in an indication that he could become the country's next vice-president.

The Hunan province people's congress, the provincial Parliament, announced on Monday evening (Jan 29) that 118 deputies have been elected to the NPC or national Parliament, among whom was Mr Wang.

In March, these deputies will attend the parliamentary meetings where they will elect from their own number the new state leaders, the President, Vice-President and Premier, as well as the chairman and vice-chairman of the NPC.

Elections of these top leaders take place once every five years and follow the five-yearly national congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the 19th of which took place last October.

Mr Wang, 69, had relinquished all key positions in the party in October - member of the apex Politburo Standing Committee, of the Politburo and of the Central Committee.

Usually, this would have meant that Mr Wang was headed for full retirement, having exceeded the unofficial age limit of 68 for top party leaders.

However, rumours persisted since October that Mr Wang would become vice-president.

Hong Kong newspapers Sing Tao, in October, and South China Morning Post, in December, reported this as well.

While the vice-presidential position is largely ceremonial, it would allow Mr Wang to continue to play a key political role in government in areas such as foreign affairs and economics.

Mr Wang keeps a low public profile but is often described as China's second-most powerful politician.

In November, he attended a banquet that President Xi Jinping hosted for US President Donald Trump.

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