'Little Hu' promoted in China

BEIJING, China - A senior politician tipped as a future candidate for one of China's highest leadership posts has been named as the top official in the country's most populous province, state media said Tuesday, December 18.

Hu Chunhua, 49, has been appointed as Communist Party secretary for the manufacturing hub of Guangdong province, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported, in a move which amounts to a step up.

He was one of the youngest politicians promoted to the party's 25-member Politburo after its congress last month, placing him at the forefront of leaders slated to rule China following the next power transition in 2022, analysts said.

Hu is already one of the most prominent politicians of his generation and is seen as a protege of current outgoing Chinese president Hu Jintao, earning the nickname "little Hu".

Analysts say the alliance boosts his chances of promotion to the very top echelons of power, given the factional nature of Chinese politics, where progress depends on receiving support from senior backers while not alienating rival camps.

Hu was a senior party official in Tibet in the 1980s, where he oversaw a crackdown on anti-Beijing protesters.

But in his last post as party chief of the northeastern Inner Mongolia region he was seen as taking a more conciliatory line towards protests by ethnic Mongolians in 2010.

Hu replaces Wang Yang, also a member of the Politburo, who is seen as a reformist after he urged a less authoritarian response to popular protest, and greater freedoms for non-government organisations.

Guangdong is the core of China's manufacturing-oriented economy, and workers have flocked to the province from across the country, pushing its population over 104 million.

Top communist officials are typically swapped between different provinces to test their policy and crisis handling skills before they are promoted to the core of China's leadership. - Agence France-Presse