Yu Zhengsheng was re-elected Shanghai party boss yesterday - a move that reaffirms his potential to join the country's highest ruling body - as he highlighted the city's role in national reforms.
The 67-year-old Yu, a princeling who has been on the Politburo for 10 years, stands an even greater chance of rising to the supreme nine-member Standing Committee after his selection by Shanghai's party leadership.
The city's party committee also named Vice-President Xi Jinping as its delegate to the 18th Party Congress in autumn, a once-in-a-decade gathering when all top party leadership posts will be filled. Xi is widely expected be named to succeed President Hu Jintao as the party's top leader.
'We must stick to the directions by the central leadership, ensuring Shanghai will live up to their expectations,' Yu told reporters after his re-election as party secretary. 'Shanghai will play an important role in the country's reform and development to help maintain stability.'
The post has long been seen as a stepping stone to top leadership, a reflection of Shanghai's role as a financial centre and its status as the nation's most populous city.
All but one of Shanghai party secretaries since 1989 have been promoted to the standing committee. Those include Xi, former Premier Zhu Rongji and former President Jiang Zemin . The notable exception is Chen Liangyu , who was sacked and jailed following the city's pension fund scandal in 2006.
Yu's political pedigree makes him a likely candidate to ascend the ranks.
His father, Yu Qiwei, also known as Huang Jing, was once married to Mao Zedong's third wife, Jiang Qing. She was also the first mayor of Tianjin and head of the Ministry of Machine-Building Industry in the 1950s.
Yu's mother, Fan Jin, was director of the Beijing Daily.
Early last month, the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, praised Shanghai's steady development over the years. The front-page coverage was widely seen as a nod to Yu and his chances of promotion.