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Beijing mayor Cai Qi speaks at the opening of the Beijing People's Congress, Beijing, China, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's mayor Cai Qi has been appointed as party chief of the capital city of Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Cai is close to Chinese President Xi Jinping, sources with ties to the leadership have told Reuters, and is virtually assured a seat in the decision-making Politburo during the 19th Party Congress in autumn.

The Politburo currently has 25 members but it is unclear whether the number of seats could be expanded, reduced or remain the same later this year.

Cai and Xi overlapped during their time in various government positions both in the eastern province of Zhejiang and the southeastern province of Fujian.

This is the latest move by Xi to put his allies in key positions ahead of the autumn party congress in Beijing.

In the past, politicians served as provincial governor or city mayor for five years before being promoted to party secretary of the province or city. The party secretary outranks the governor or mayor.

Cai has been promoted quickly, as he only became the acting mayor of Beijing in October last year and the mayor in January this year.

Prior to becoming the acting Beijing mayor, Cai was a senior official at China's National Security Commission.

(Reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim; Writing by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Michael Perry)

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