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Chinese VP Receives Key Appointment

Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, chats with Vice President Xi Jinping as they leave the Great Hall of the People (file photo)

Chinese state media say Vice President Xi Jinping has been named vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, confirming his status as the likely successor to President Hu Jintao, who must retire in early 2013.

The promotion came Monday at the end of a 4-day annual meeting of the ruling Communist Party. The party members also approved a 5-year economic plan calling for stable but relatively fast economic growth. The plan calls for the country to pursue a "breakthrough in economic restructuring" along with vigorous but steady political reform. The official Xinhua news agency said the plan also calls for efforts to boost incomes and stimulate domestic demand.

Xi is following in the current president's footsteps by joining the military commission, where they will be the only civilians.

Mr. Hu is expected to resign as party leader in 2012.

Xi hails from an elite group of politicians know as the "princelings," the children of powerful officials. The 57-year-old is the son of a communist revolutionary hero who served as vice premier and vice chairman of China's legislature. He joined the communist party in 1974 and studied at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing. He then climbed the political ladder with leadership roles in the key economic provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang before he was transferred to serve as Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee in 2007. He was elevated to the nine-member Standing Committee of the party's Politburo in 2007 and became vice president of China in 2008.

Xi also displayed his leadership abilities through coordinating final preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

He is married to renowned singer Peng Liyuan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.