China's leader Xi Jinping has moved into a historic third term in power, as he revealed a new leadership team stacked with loyalists, the media reported.
On Sunday the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) unveiled its Politburo Standing Committee, with Xi re-elected as general secretary, the BBC reported.
Observers say the line-up, handpicked by Xi, shows he prizes loyalty over expertise and experience, BBC reported.
No other party leader besides CCP founder Mao Zedong has ever served a third term.
On Sunday, a day after the congress closed, Xi strode onto a stage in Beijing's Great Hall of the People trailed by the six other men of the Politburo Standing Committee.
The group sits at the very top of the CCP and is the Chinese equivalent of the presidential cabinet.
Apart from two men -- anti-corruption chief Zhao Leji and political theorist Wang Huning -- the rest are new to the team.
Premier Li Keqiang, the country's number two leader, was not seen -- he is among four men who have retired from the committee, BBC reported.
Significant reshuffles of the standing committee after a term are common. But observers have noted that by getting rid of Li Keqiang and others, Xi has ensured he is now surrounded by a group where nobody with a different perspective to him has been included.
"He felt no need to assign a spot to an alternative faction, which shows his priority is projecting dominance over magnanimity, when he is facing international pushback," said Wen-ti Sung, a lecturer at the Australian National University.
Observers say the line-up shows that loyalty to Xi trumps ability and experience, flying in the face of the Communist Party's credo that it is a meritocracy.
But many believe that Li Qiang -- who walked out right behind Xi during the highly-choreographed ceremony - will become Premier and therefore the one to manage China's economy, BBC reported.
Li Qiang is currently the party secretary of Shanghai and oversaw the city's controversial lockdown where tens of millions experienced significant food shortages.
Some believe that by making him premier, this sends a signal that Xi does not prioritise economic activity.
"This promotion alone is significant for us to reconsider the power structure of China under Xi's third term," said Professor Yang Zhang of the American University, pointing out that Li Qiang is the first official to be promoted without any working experience in central government.
Another standing committee appointment that has raised eyebrows is Cai Qi, the mayor of Beijing.
He was seen to have performed well when the capital successfully hosted the Winter Olympics earlier this year during the pandemic. But he also attracted controversy when he launched a plan in 2017 to reduce Beijing's population that ultimately forced out many low-income earners from the city, BBC reported.
"Cai was not even among the Communist Party's top 370 leaders before the last party congress. Now he is the fifth most powerful person in China," said Neil Thomas, senior China analyst of the Eurasia Group.