President Hu Jintao has named his chief political rival to lay the groundwork for next year's crucial Communist Party congress, the South China Morning Post reported, citing sources with ties to the leadership. Vice-President Zeng Qinghong, fifth in the party's hierarchy but wielding considerably more clout than his ranking suggests, is to head day-to-day preparations for the 17th Party Congress, according to the two independent sources. Zeng, who was chief lieutenant to Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin, became vice-president when Hu was slected to the top spot. Jiang is officially retired but like many past leaders still wields some power behind the scenes. Next year Hu is widely expected to ease out top members of Jiang's old guard in a sweeping leadership reshuffle. The sources said that Zeng's appointment to the influential role is an indication of Hu's growing confidence.
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