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Although Li Keqiang, protege and former colleague of Hu Jintao in the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), had long been regarded as the first choice for potential successor to Hu, Xi Jinping, introduced in strict hierarchical order in the 17th Party Congress press conference, emerged ahead of Li in the Political Bureau Standing Committee, signalling that he is most likely to become the next supreme leader at the Party's next national congress in 2012. As a compromise candidate among Hu Jintao's CCYL clique, Zeng Qinghong's princeling group (taizidang) and Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang, Xi's elevation has special implications for Chinese politics today and in the future. (1) For a long time, China scholars have debated on whether, and to what degree Chinese elite politics has been institutionalised. This paper, through examining Xi's rise as a chosen successor and how the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) handles power succession under Hu's leadership, aims to reflect some new socio-cultural characteristics of today's Chinese elite politics and assess whether and to what degree the selection of top leaders is being institutionalised. The reasons for focussing on leadership succession in the case of Xi are twofold. First, the CPC is the only party which organises political life in China, and power succession is the agenda with the highest priority for every party leadership. Second, the politics of power succession can most reflect the nature of elite politics, although elite politics takes place in different political contexts. Power succession is the core of Chinese elite politics.