Hu Chunhua raised political eyebrows with how quickly he rose from a staff position with the Communist Youth League in Tibet to become party chief of Inner Mongolia. He now stands a chance of entering the Politburo after surviving two major scandals - the tainted milk formula furore; and Mongolian protests over a hit-and-run - that would have cost many top politicians their jobs.
Inner Mongolia party chief Hu Chunhua seen making Politburo Standing Committee in 2017
The party chief in Inner Mongolia - a favourite to win a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee in the reshuffle that is five years away - has become the first cadre to pledge loyalty to the new leadership.
Hu Chunhua , known as "Little Hu" for following in the footsteps of President Hu Jintao , told a regional cadre meeting yesterday "party members should be on the same path as the party led by general secretary Xi Jinping ".
Xi was named national party chief during the leadership reshuffle that concluded on Thursday, succeeding President Hu Jintao .
Party leaders traditionally groom successors in the younger generation.
Little Hu, 49, is seen as a protégé of the president. Both started their political careers in the party youth league and spent time in Tibet.
Hu Chunhua stands to join the Standing Committee in the 2017 leadership reshuffle. The committee, which now consists of seven members, makes key decisions, including those concerning economic policy and security.
Hu was named a member of the 25-strong Politburo last week.
He is widely expected to be made party chief of economic powerhouse Guangdong, a posting that would test his capabilities but also bolster his political resume.
At yesterday's regional party meeting in Hohhot , he said the party congress had significantly unified cadres.
The naming of Xi as both party general secretary and chief of the Central Military Commission provided a "strong guarantee" China would move towards being a prosperous society.
"We should maintain a high sense of political responsibility and alertness, firmly grab the political mission of learning and thoroughly put into practice the spirit of the party congress," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
"We should implement the path and directions set by the party central leadership in an unshaken way, and be determined to protect the authority of the central leadership."
Jilin party chief Sun Zhengcai could also be promoted to the Standing Committee in 2017.