China’s president pledges reform but with party firmly in charge.
The list was approved on the final day of the Communist Party’s congress held every five years.
Dropping Zeng from the list makes him almost certain to retire.
His retirement represents a boon to president Hu Jintao, who is seeking to use the party’s 17th congress to consolidate his power as the head of a new team of leaders who will be named on Monday.
Zeng, ranked fifth in the party hierarchy, was long associated with Hu’s predecessor Jiang Zemin.