China commerce minister voted out
Ma Kai, 66, secretary general of the State Council, or cabinet, is tipped to become a vice premier now that Chen is out of the running, the sources said, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics.
Until now, a politician designated to become a Politburo member has not been barred from the Central Committee since 1987, when Deng Liqun, an ultra-conservative and reviled Marxist ideologue, was voted out at the 13th congress in a deeply embarrassing fall from grace.
Chen's imminent retirement as commerce minister, a post he has held since taking over from now disgraced politician Bo Xilai in late 2007, would come as China faces growing tension with major trade partners in Europe and the United States and Chinese officials warn of increasing protectionism.
China's leaders set a goal for 10 percent export growth this year, but it is more likely to come in at around 7 percent as the world has struggled to recover from financial crisis.
Some experts suggest that Chen's age was the main factor in his ouster.
Minister Chen didn't get onto the Central Committee because of his age. He was born in 1949 and that makes him too old to serve a full term, said a Commerce Ministry official who declined to be identified.
But exceptions to the mandatory retirement age of 65 are often made for cabinet ministers
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