Meng Jianzhu approved as security chief
Josephine Ma in Beijing
Ex-Jiangxi party boss elevated
The National People's Congress Standing Committee yesterday approved Meng Jianzhu as public security minister, replacing Zhou Yongkang, who has been elevated to the party's top echelon.
The appointment, which was widely expected, is part of sweeping reshuffles of top party and government posts rippling from the promotion of four political stars to the Politburo Standing Committee during the 17th National Congress.
Mr Meng, 60, former party boss of Jiangxi, will head the nation's police forces. The Jiangsu native climbed the ladder in Shanghai and was seen as a protege of former president Jiang Zemin .
He became vice-mayor of Shanghai in 1993 and the city's deputy party secretary in 1996. He took the top party job in Jiangxi - a Communist Party revolutionary base and home province of Vice-President Zeng Qinghong - in 2001.
Having spent six years in Jiangxi, Mr Meng owes his promotion largely to Mr Zeng, 68, who relinquished his Politburo Standing Committee position at the congress.
Mr Meng's appointment came a day after the announcement that Yu Zhengsheng would be Shanghai party boss. He replaces Xi Jinping, who is tipped as the frontrunner to succeed Hu Jintao , the president and party general secretary, in 2012.
However, the NPC Standing Committee did not announce the appointment of Yu Youjun as minister of culture, as overseas media had speculated would happen. The former Shanxi governor is a vice-minister.
More ministerial appointments are expected to be announced before the annual full session of the NPC in March.
The most anticipated cabinet appointments will be those of vice-premiers. New Politburo Standing Committee member Li Keqiang is widely expected to become executive vice-premier, possibly paving the way for him to take over from Premier Wen Jiabao in five years. Beijing mayor Wang Qishan is also tipped for promotion to vice-premier.
Eyes are also on appointments to top regional posts. Deputy Beijing party secretary Wang Anshun is expected to succeed Mr Wang as Beijing mayor, and Commerce Minister Bo Xilai to become Chongqing party boss.
Meanwhile, the NPC Standing Committee expelled two deputies - Wang Xiaojin , chairman of distiller Gujing Group, and Wang Dingguo, former board chairman of Qingjiang River Hydropower Development - suspected of legal and disciplinary breaches.
At least 28 have been expelled in the past four years, Xinhua said.