Hu Jintao's heir apparent made a vice-president The National People's Congress yesterday re-elected Hu Jintao as state president and head of the military, and named Xi Jinping vice-president, a widely anticipated move that consolidated Mr Xi's status as Mr Hu's heir apparent in five years. In October, Mr Xi was appointed to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, the Chinese Communist Party's top decision-making body. The first annual session of the 11th NPC is expected today to re-elect Wen Jiabao as premier and approve his new cabinet, which will see a reshuffle of some ministerial-level officials. The legislature will also approve Mr Hu's recommendations for membership of the powerful Central Military Commission, which usually includes top brass from the People's Liberation Army. It will also elect the country's top judge and chief procurator. Cao Jianming is a hot candidate to become president of the People's Supreme Court. The NPC has never voted against nominations for top posts put forward by the party. Analysts said they believed that all the positions were filled after deals were struck at October's party congress. The plenary meeting yesterday also re-elected Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, and elected 13 NPC vice-chairmen, most of them retired leaders, or leading figures from non-communist parties and social institutions. Among them was Wang Zhaoguo, a Politburo member who will be executive chairman in charge of the NPC Standing Committee's daily operations. Vice-chairman Li Jianguo was also elected secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee. Also elected were 161 members of the 11th NPC Standing Committee, selected from among 173 candidates. Among the 12 losers were former deputy Beijing party chief Li Zhijian, who got only 1,819 votes of support, the least among all candidates, and 830 votes against, the highest of all. Former deputy Tianjin party chief Fang Fengyou, fared next worst, receiving 1,997 votes of support and 700 votes against him. There were three votes against Mr Hu and five abstentions from the nearly 3,000 deputies, while there were 28 votes against Mr Xi and 17 abstentions. Mr Xi is not Mr Hu's favoured choice, but the son of party elder Xi Zhongxun, a former vice-premier, is more acceptable to factions within the party. The rising political star also has a reputation for taking a tough line on corruption and being friendly to businesses. Analysts say a further sign of his rising stature was the confirmation last week that he is to head a top-ranking committee overseeing final preparations for the Beijing Olympics in August. Until recently, Mr Xi has been seen as mostly a local-government leader and apparently still needs more national-level experience. He now runs the party's secretariat, the nerve centre of the party's daily operations, and is also president of the Central Party School, a position that could allow him to build his power base and shape his own ideology. Mr Xi appears to be following a fast-tracked version of Mr Hu's own path to the top, but still faces competition from Li Keqiang, another rising star on the Politburo Standing Committee and a protege of Mr Hu, though Mr Li is now more likely to succeed Mr Wen as the next premier. Mr Hu's path from party secretariat member to Central Party School head to vice-president took five years. However, the only position Mr Xi needs to occupy before 2012 is the vice-chairmanship of the Central Military Commission. The National People's Congress also formally approved plans to restructure government departments, including creation of a commission to co-ordinate energy policy and an environmental protection ministry whose role would be to tackle the mainland's severe pollution problems.