China’s parliament backs Xi Jinping for third term as president

Chinese President Xi Jinping, now 69, could remain the country's leader for the rest of his life. (Photo: Aly Song/Reuters)

Xi Jinping has clinched a third five-year term as China's president, a mostly ceremonial position, putting him on pace to remain in power for the remainder of his life.

The roughly 3,000 members of China's mainly ceremonial National People's Congress (NPC) voted overwhelmingly for Xi after the constitution was amended to abolish the conventional two-term restriction for the job.

In roughly an hour, the NPC, whose members are nominated by the ruling Communist party, cast 2,952 votes for Xi. No one opposed his election.

No candidate lists were distributed, and it is thought that Xi and others who won other offices ran unopposed. The election procedure is almost entirely cloaked in secret, except for the method by which participants in the congress placed four ballots into bright red boxes positioned throughout the auditorium of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where they gather.

In addition, Xi was unanimously appointed commander of the two million-strong People's Liberation Army.

Wen-Ti Sung, a specialist on Chinese politics at the Australian National University, told Al Jazeera that the era of winner-take-all had arrived in Chinese politics. "Xi Jinping is the most successful."

Since assuming power in 2012, Xi Jinping, 69, has eliminated any prospective rivals and filled the party with his followers, transforming himself into China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

In October, he was appointed to a third five-year term as party general secretary, breaking with the Chinese practice of power transfer every ten years.

For the following two days, Xi-approved officials will be appointed or elected to occupy important positions in the cabinet, including Li Qiang, who is expected to be named China's No. 2 premiere, placing him in charge of governing the second-largest economy in the world.

I was seen beaming and shaking hands with Xi after the latter was confirmed as president. During the voting procedure, the two men conversed relaxedly beside one another.

Han Zheng, 68, was elected as the new vice president, while Zhao Leji, 66, was selected as the next parliament chair. Both were members of Xi's last Politburo Standing Committee party leader team.

Three months have passed since China abruptly abandoned its famous zero-COVID policy, causing a nationwide disease outbreak.

A so-called 'closed loop' was implemented to protect the event from possible coronavirus epidemics, and all participants and personnel wore masks except dozens of high executives.

On Monday, the penultimate day of the annual parliamentary session, Xi will deliver a speech, while Li will attend a news conference.

The government is coping with the economic repercussions of the zero-COVID policy and a problematic relationship with the United States over topics such as trade, human rights, and China's strong claims over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Publish : 2023-03-10 12:34:00

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