Will Xi Jinping emerge as core leader in the line of Mao and Deng after China party plenum?

Xi is expected to be endorsed as a "core" leader whose authority will not be challenged.

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China's President Xi Jinping claps during the closing ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, March 14, 2016.

The Chinese Communist Party's four-day Central Committee plenum officially focuses on "party management" but China watchers have said the plenum will see the rise of President Xi Jinping as an undisputed "core" leader in the line of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

The most powerful 400 people in the Communist party hierarchy are attending the meeting. Observers have said Xi is expected to be endorsed as a "core" leader whose authority will not be challenged -- a position enjoyed by former leaders Mao and Deng.

Beijing-based historian Zhang Lifan said Xi's elevation as core leader at this year's plenum will cement his position vis-a-vis potential rivals within the party, Radio Free Asia reported.

"We will see at this plenum whether or not the party's Central Committee confirms Xi Jinping as a 'core' party leader ... "If that is confirmed, then he won't need to crack the whip to deter potential rivals within the party through the use of internal disciplinary measures," Zhang said.

In the normal course Xi is expected to stand down as president and party boss 2022, after completing the ten-year tenure. This means he should identify a leader who will succeed him in office well ahead of the next party Congress. However, this time, observers believe Xi could use the plenum to extend is grip on power. There were reports earlier that Xi cold deviate from revealing a successor at this year's plenum.

As per Chinese Communist party traditions, the leader who becomes the next president should be inducted into the politburo in the next party congress in 2017. With as many as five of the seven politburo members, excluding Prime minister Li Keqiang and Xi himself, are set to retire next year, the plenum is expected to give insights into who Xi would handpick as his successor.

However, the rising popularity of Xi following his anti-corruption agenda and an internal party clean-up drive have made him vastly different from many of his immediate predecessors.