China's sprawling bureaucracy is undergoing a regional reshuffle of a rare scale, with new appointments and job swaps offering hints of potential future leaders being groomed by Beijing.

At least 32 new mayoral-level officials have been appointed since Dec. 21, with 29 of them being relocated to a new province for the first time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. The other three are being moved for just the second time. While the Communist Party has routinely relocated minister-level officials from one province to another, that's less common among lower-level officials.

"We have almost never seen the transfer of mid-level officials between provinces at a scale this massive," said Suisheng Zhao, executive director of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation at the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies. "Grooming the party's talent pipeline is the most important aspect of Xi Jinping's reform of governance modernization."