BREAKING: Xi Jinping is awarded a historic third term as Chinese president after enacting a new law that will allow him to rule for life
- Jinping, 69, was unanimously elected president during a session of China’s National People’s Congress.
- The appointment by China’s official parliament comes after Xi secured another five years as head of the Communist Party and military.
Xi Jinping swore in a third term as Chinese president on Friday, capping a rise that has made him the country’s most powerful leader in generations.
The appointment by China’s rubber stamp parliament comes after Xi secured another five years as head of the Communist Party and military, the two most important leadership positions in Chinese politics, in October.
Since then, Xi, 69, has weathered widespread protests over his zero-Covid policy and its subsequent abandonment that has killed countless people.
Those issues have been avoided at this week’s National People’s Congress, a carefully choreographed event that is also set to name Xi’s ally Li Qiang as the new prime minister.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, 69, applauds during a session of China’s National People’s Congress.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is applauded as he arrives for the third plenary session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 10, 2023.
And on Friday Xi was handed a third term as China’s president, the culmination of a remarkable rise from relatively little-known party apparatus to leader of a global superpower.
His coronation sets him up to become the longest-serving president in modern China, and will mean Xi will rule well into his 1970s, if no challengers emerge.
Adrian Geiges, co-author of ‘Xi Jinping: The World’s Most Powerful Man’, told AFP he did not believe Xi was motivated by a desire for personal enrichment, despite international media investigations revealing the accumulated wealth of his family.
“That’s not your interest,” Geiges said.
“He really has a vision for China, he wants to see China as the most powerful country in the world.”
For decades China, marked by founding leader Mao Zedong’s dictatorial regime and cult of personality, eschewed one-man rule in favor of a more consensus-based, but still autocratic leadership.
That model imposed term limits on the largely ceremonial role of the presidency, with Xi’s predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao stepping down after 10 years in office.
President Xi Jinping is pictured at a plenary meeting of the People’s Liberation Army and People’s Armed Police Force delegation during the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress in Beijing on March 8, 2023.
High school students gather in front of a screen displaying an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) is congratulated by Li Qiang after being unanimously elected president during a session of China’s National People’s Congress.
Xi has broken that rule book, abolishing term limits in 2018 and allowing a cult of personality to foster his all-powerful leadership.
But the start of his unprecedented third term at the helm of China comes as the world’s second-largest economy faces major hurdles, from slowing growth and a troubled real estate sector to a declining birth rate.
Relations with the United States are also at a low point not seen in decades, with the powers bickering over everything from human rights to trade and technology.
“We will see a more assertive China on the global stage, insisting that its narrative be accepted,” Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute, told AFP.
“But it will also focus on making it less dependent on the rest of the world domestically and on making the Communist Party the centerpiece of the government, rather than the Chinese government,” he said.
“It is not a return to the Maoist era, but one in which the Maoists will feel comfortable,” Tsang added.
It is not a direction of travel that is good for the rest of the world.
He was handed a third term as China’s president on Friday, the culmination of a remarkable rise from relatively little-known party apparatus to leader of a global superpower.