Chinese leader Xi Jinping was awarded a third five-year term as president on Friday, putting him on track to stay in power for life.
Approval of Xi’s appointment by the ceremonial National People’s Congress was a foregone conclusion for a leader who has sidelined potential rivals and filled the top ranks of the ruling Communist Party with his supporters since taking power in 2012.
The vote for Xi was 2,952 to 0 by the NPC, whose members are appointed by the ruling party.
China warns that there will be “conflict for sure” if the US does not reduce tensions with Beijing
Xi, 69, was appointed to a third five-year term as party general in October, breaking with a tradition in which Chinese leaders hand over power once a decade. A two-term limit for the flagship presidency was removed from the Chinese constitution earlier, prompting suggestions that he could remain in power for life.
No candidate lists were handed out, and Xi and those awarded other posts were believed to have run unopposed. The election process remains almost entirely shrouded in secrecy, apart from the process by which delegates to the Congress placed four ballots in boxes placed around the Great Auditorium of the Great Hall of the People.
Xi was also unanimously named commander of the 2 million-member People’s Liberation Army, a force that explicitly takes its orders from the party rather than the country.
China’s potential role in Ukraine’s war raises NATO concerns
In other votes, the party’s third-ranking official Zhao Leji was named head of the National People’s Congress. The vast majority of the body’s legislative work is led by its standing committee, which meets year-round.
Taking over from the former party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the pinnacle of political power in Xi-led China, Zhao, 67, won Xi’s trust as head of the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, in hunting an anti-graft campaign that has frozen any potential opposition to the leader.
Shanghai’s former party chief and Politburo Last Standing Committee member Han Zheng was appointed to the largely ceremonial post of state vice president.
Xi, Zhao and Han then took their oath with one hand on a copy of the Chinese constitution.
© 2023 The Canadian Press