Sun Zhengcai

Born in 1963, agricultural expert Sun Zhengcai was one of China's youngest government ministers when he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 2006. He moved to head up the Communist Party Committee in the Northeastern province of Jilin in 2009, and became Party chief in Chongqing after the 18th Communist Party Congress in November 2012. He is widely regarded as a rising start in the Party's top ranks. 

Zhou Qiang (centre, back row) is congratulated by other deputies after being elected president of the Supreme People's Court at the National People's Congress. Photo: Xinhua

Zhou Qiang's new role as the top judge is largely symbolic

Hu Chunhua and Sun Zhengcai, both three years younger than the 52-year-old Zhou, have now eclipsed him on the political stage after joining the 25-member Politburo, and are in pole position to become the core of the party's sixth-generation leadership.