China's Vice Premier dies at 68

China's Vice Premier Huang Ju has died at the age of 68, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The cause of death was not specified, though Huang had reportedly been ill with pancreatic cancer for more than two years.

China's leadership has called Huang "a long-tested and faithful communist fighter''.

The Vice Premier and number six in the party structure, was a key ally of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

His death creates a vacancy in the Politburo and gives President Hu Jintao an opportunity to increase his hold on power by filling it with an ally.