Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, a former Guangdong party chief, became China's top legislator yesterday.
The No 3 figure in the Communist Party's seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, formed in November, Zhang received 2,952 of the 2,961 valid ballots cast to succeed Wu Bangguo as chairman of the National People's Congress.
Li Jianguo , who was re-elected as NPC vice-chairman, will be the top ranked of its 13 vice-chairpersons. Ten are newcomers.
Zhang Ming , a political scientist, said Zhang would have less political influence than Wu, who ranked second in the Politburo Standing Committee behind then-president Hu Jintao .
Zhang Dejiang, 66, a North Korean-educated ally of former president Jiang Zemin , developed a reputation for rigid efficiency during his two-decade rise from provincial party chief to vice-premier.
To the surprise of many, Shen Yueyue , 56, executive vice-minister of the party's Central Organisation Department, was elected as a new NPC vice-chairwoman.
She received the highest number of opposition votes among the 13 vice-chairpersons, with 103 NPC deputies voting against her appointment and 45 abstaining. Shen was seen as a key aide of Hu as she came from the Communist Youth League, Hu's power base.
Supervision Minister Ma Wen , 65, failed to become an NPC vice-chairwoman, despite being tipped as a strong contender. Ma, a close ally of outgoing premier Wen Jiabao , surprisingly failed to be re-elected to the party's top disciplinary body during its 18th national congress in November, despite having been seen as a front runner to become Wang Qishan's top deputy at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. She also failed to be elected as a Central Committee member during the party congress.
Other new NPC vice-chairmen include Supreme People's Court president Wang Shengjun , Supreme People's Court vice-president Wan Exiang, Health Minister Chen Zhu , National Development and Reform Commission director Zhang Ping , State Council Information Office head Wang Chen , Heilongjiang party chief Ji Bingxuan , China Democratic League chairman Zhang Baowen, Qiangba Puncog, director of Tibet's regional people's congress standing committee, and Arken Imirbaki, chairman of the standing committee of Xinjiang's regional people's congress.
"The election of the 13 vice-chairpersons means their political careers will come to an end in the NPC because the roles of China's so-called parliament and another top advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, have remained unchanged in past decades - as a club for retired and semi-retired top officials," political analyst Chen Ziming said.
Fluent in Korean, Zhang Dejiang won the trust of Jiang in March 1990 when he accompanied the then president on an important solidarity mission to Pyongyang amid international isolation after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
The son of former People's Liberation Army General Zhang Zhiyi , Zhang Dejiang was born in Liaoning in 1946. He studied at Kim Il-sung University for two years and earned a degree in economics in 1980.