Heading the list of the six new leaders elevated to the Chinese Communist Party's ruling Politburo yesterday are Hu Qili and Li Peng, who are considered likely candidates to be China's future top leaders in charge of the party and government.

Hu, 56, has been known as the right hand of the current party leader, General Secretary Hu Yaobang and is widely perceived to be his likely successor. Li Peng, 57, the adopted son of the late premier Chou En-lai and a Soviet-trained engineer and energy specialist, is likely to succeed Zhao Ziyang as premier. Both men are said to be intelligent and pragmatic.

A former mayor of the northeastern industrial city of Tianjin, Hu Qili, (pronounced Hoo Cheelee), is currently the permament secretary of the party Secretariat, which oversees the day-to-day affairs of the party. He is not related to Hu Yaobang but often accompanies the 69-year-old party chief on official functions.

Fluent in English, Hu Qili acccompanied the party chief to Australia and New Zealand last spring. An advocate of China's market-oriented reforms, Hu was once considered to be in the shadow of the party chief, according to analysts.

But in the past year, he has appeared to move out of the elder Hu's shadow and cement his ties more directly with China's top leader, Deng Xiaoping, analysts say.

Deng has singled out Hu Qili several times, most recently during a meeting last Friday with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, where Deng introduced him as one of the younger party leaders.

Vice Premier Li Peng is one of the architects of China's nuclear power program and accompanied Chinese President Li Xiannian to the United States in July, when a long-stalled nuclear technology agreement was signed. Later, during a visit to California's Silicon Valley, the vice premier impressed his American hosts with his knowledge of high technology.

He is in charge of the energy and transportation ministries as well as the electronics industry and heads the recently reorganized state education commission.

A native of Sichuan, Li hails from the same province as Deng, and has longstanding ties to current and former party leaders.