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China's next leader? A look at Xi Jinping's rise.

Vice President Xi Jinping was promoted Monday to vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, a key post seen as the penultimate step on the ladder to China's top job in 2013.

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In this March 13, 2009 file photo, Chinese President Hu Jintao (l.) chats with Vice President Xi Jinping as they leave the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Mr. Xi has been promoted to vice chairman of a key Communist Party military committee, state media reported Oct. 18, in the clearest sign yet he is on track to be the country's future leader.

Andy Wong/AP/File

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The man most likely to be China’s next president has shown himself a strong supporter of free market economic reforms, but steered clear of a swelling debate over political changes, leaving his future intentions in doubt.

Vice President Xi Jinping, 57, boosted his chances of succeeding President Hu Jintao in 2013 when he was promoted Monday evening to a key post seen as the penultimate step on the ladder to the top job.

The son of a revolutionary hero and former vice premier, Mr. Xi is a prominent “princeling” whose political and family connections have served him well in his rise through the ranks of the ruling Communist party.

Efficient consensus builder

Xi has developed a reputation as an efficient administrator and a skilled consensus builder who has managed not to make serious enemies, observers say. Though he has spent his career in China’s most prosperous eastern provinces, he has earned a national reputation by overseeing high profile events such as the 2008 Olympic Games and through his marriage to a popular folk singer.

Xi was named vice chairman of the Central Military Commission on Monday by the annual Communist party plenum. President Hu was given the same job before he was named head of the party in 2002 and then president in 2003.

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