United Front Minister Ling Jihua, the former top aide to outgoing President Hu Jintao, was named one of 10 executive chairmen of the top political advisory body's new presidium, suggesting he might be named a vice-chairman of the body after its nine-day annual session that starts today.
The united front minister is traditionally appointed one of the vice-chairmen of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a position carrying the rank of state leader.
But Ling's appointment is also a sign he will not be further held to account for the crash of a Ferrari in Beijing last year that killed his son, who was driving, and seriously injured two female passengers.
His new role in the CPPCC shows that the worst of his political crisis may have past, said Chen Ziming , an independent analyst of party politics.
"Considering that Ling was an important member of Hu Jintao's camp, Hu may have pushed to retain his protégé's influence," he said.
He added that the 56-year-old Ling could cap his political career as a vice-chairman of the CPPCC.
The preparatory meeting ahead of today's session of the CPPCC approved the line-up of the presidium, spokesman Lu Xinhua said yesterday.
Yu Zhengsheng , a new member of the all-powerful Political Bureau Standing Committee, was set to chair the presidium meetings. Du Qinglin , a member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party's Central Committee and the vice-chairman of the last CPPCC session, was appointed secretary general of the session. Du is a former united front minister.
Ling ranks No3 in the presidium hierarchy. As Hu's chief political fixer, Ling was himself a rising star until it emerged that he had tried to cover-up his son's car crash last March.
In a sign the scandal hurt Ling's chances for a seat at the top table of power, a surprise personnel reshuffle in September saw him take over as head of the United Front Work Department, a largely symbolic post.
There was speculation late last year that his wife, Gu Liping , had profited from a well-endorsed charity that she had founded - Youth Business China.
Other members appointed executive chairman at yesterday's meeting are Han Qide, chairman of the Jiusan Society, one of eight non-Communist parties in the mainland; the 11th Pagbalha Hutugtu, Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai; Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang ; chairwoman of the Central Committee of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, Lin Wenyi; executive vice-chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party Luo Fuhe; and Tung Chee-hwa and Edmund Ho, the former chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau.
The National People's Congress opens on Tuesday.