China's largely rubber-stamp parliament chose former top graft-buster Wang Qishan, a key ally of President Xi Jinping, as vice president on Saturday, a widely-expected move that nonetheless breaks with convention and underlines Xi's dominant authority.
Wang's appointment to the vice-presidency allows Xi to retain a trusted surrogate with connections to the United States diplomatic and financial communities. Xi, 64, got his name written into the constitution and party charter - putting him on a status equal to Mao Zedong - and laid the groundwork for breaking the precedent of handing over power after two complete terms.
Moments before, the congress unanimously reappointed Mr. Xi to the state presidency, the least powerful of his several titles, and as chairman of a state military commission.
He took office as president in 2013 and has not said how many additional five-year terms he intends to serve.
On the other hand, the 69-year-old Vice President, who had stepped down from the Communist Party last year had has kept a prominent profile, sharing the table as the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee during the public sessions of the National People's Congress.
"Wang Qishan will exercise power because he's Xi's deputy, not because he's vice president", said June Teufel Dreyer, a political-science professor at the University of Miami.
"Choosing Wang as vice-president will consolidate [Xi's] power", said Hua Po, an independent Chinese political commentator. "The problem is that he has too few people who are loyal and competent for his use, so he has to retain Wang and give himself more time to cultivate more talented people", Hua added. He stepped down past year.
Observer said that Wang would be among a new, stronger foreign policy team to be fully unveiled on Monday with the election of the cabinet.
"Maybe they'll be able to come up with a solution for this massive brewing storm with America about imbalances and tariffs".
Moments after the vote, the People's Daily newspaper proclaimed Xi as China's "great helmsman" in an alert sent to millions of mobile phones.
Legislators beamed when talking about Xi - a stark contrast from the criticism that Chinese people expressed online when term limits were lifted last week, prompting censors into action.