Yang Jing, an ally of incoming premier Li Keqiang , is poised to become secretary general of the State Council in Li's cabinet, to be unveiled next week.
The secretary general takes care of the cabinet's daily work as the premier's right-hand man. The position will allow Yang, a Mongol, who currently heads the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and a member of the party's powerful Secretariat of the Central Committee, to work more closely with Li.
"He [Yang] will be named secretary general of the State Council very soon," Ren Yaping, chairman of Inner Mongolian regional people's political consultative conference, said on the sidelines of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing this week.
Yang will be the first secretary general from an ethnic minority background.
The new cabinet line-up - including four vice-premiers, five state councillors, ministers and heads of central government agencies - will be unveiled on March 16, the second last day of the annual session of the National People's Congress.
As secretary general, Yang will automatically become a state councillor. Other frontrunners to become state councillors, who rank between vice-premiers and ministers, include Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun , defence minister-in-waiting General Chang Wanquan , outgoing Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Wang Yong , chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
Yang Jing has long been considered one of Li's closest allies. He served as the Inner Mongolia regional chief of the Communist Youth League between 1993 and 1996, while Li was the league's first secretary from 1993 to 1998.
In late December, Yang accompanied Li on the premier-in-waiting's first inspection tour, to the provinces of Jiangxi and Hubei , after the Communist Party's national congress in November.
Yang sat right behind Li, in the third row of the presidium, during the opening of this year's NPC session on Tuesday.
Ren and Yang worked closely together in Inner Mongolia for a decade. They were both made members of the Communist Party's Inner Mongolia regional standing committee in 1998.
Yang became chairman of the Inner Mongolian government in 2004 and Ren became his deputy a couple of years later. They worked together until 2008, when Yang was transferred to head the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.