Xi Jinping was announced as the Communist Party's new general secretary today, taking over from president Hu Jintao, after the party's Peoples' Congress wrapped up yesterday.
Mr Xi, whose father, former vice-premier Xi Zhongxun, fought alongside Mao Zedong in the Chinese civil war, will now formally take over as president early next year.
Li Keqiang, a reformer who was also sent to toil in the countryside during Mao's Cultural Revolution, will be prime minister.
The two men head up the party's new Politburo Standing Committee, the cabinet which is charged with governing China, which was revealed today.
Millions of people around China gathered around televisions and radios for the once-in-a-decade Politburo announcement.
Long road to the top
Mr Xi belongs to the party's 'princeling' generation, the offspring of communist revolutionaries.
He watched his father being purged and later, during the Cultural Revolution, spent years in the countryside himself before making his way to university and then to power.
Married to famous singer Peng Liyuan, Mr Xi has crafted a low-key and sometimes blunt political style.
He has complained that officials' speeches and writings are clogged with party jargon, and has demanded more plain speaking.
Mr Xi went to work in the poor north-western Chinese countryside as a "sent-down youth" during the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, and became a rural commune official.
He went on to study chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing and later gained a doctorate in Marxist theory from Tsinghua.
A native of the poor, inland province of Shaanxi, Mr Xi was promoted to governor of south-eastern Fujian province in 1999 and became party boss in neighbouring Zhejiang province in 2003.
In 2007 he secured the top job in China's commercial capital, Shanghai, when his predecessor was caught up in a huge corruption case. Later that year he was promoted to the party's standing committee.