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Xi buddy Liu set to leapfrog his way into China's leadership

Advisers Liu He, far left, and Wang Huning, far right, flank Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on March 31. (CCTV image)

TOKYO -- The Chinese Communist Party's next national congress is still a year and a half off, but already speculation is intensifying over what new faces will emerge in the party leadership when it gathers in Beijing's Great Hall of the People for the twice-a-decade event.

     There is good reason for all the crystal-ball gazing: The Communist Party wields the real power in China, so those faces will be the country's next leaders.

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