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China's party congress

Team Xi: top contenders to join Chinese leader's inner circle

Loyalty key for promotion to powerful Politburo Standing Committee

Hostesses at an exhibition highlighting President Xi Jinping and his leadership at the Beijing Exhibition Hall before China's National Congress.   © AP

HONG KONG -- China's National Congress could mark a watershed moment for President Xi Jinping.

As the country's most important political meeting in years kicks off Sunday, Xi is moving to secure an unprecedented third term. But the 69-year-old is also tipped to consolidate his power base by elevating loyal proteges into China's most powerful political circle -- the Communist Party's seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC).

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