At a time of severe economic woes and escalating tensions with the US and others, Chinese leader Xi Jinping was awarded a third five-year term as the nation’s president on Friday, putting him on course to stay in power for life.
The National People’s Congress’s ratification of Xi’s appointment was a foregone conclusion, as he has effectively silenced potential challengers and stacked the upper levels of the ruling Communist Party with his allies since assuming power in 2012, as reported by the Associated Press.
The NPC, whose members are appointed by the ruling party, voted 2,952 to 0 in favor of Xi. In October, Xi, then 69 years old, broke with custom by having himself named to a third five-year term as party general secretary. Xi and the others who were given positions are widely assumed to have won without any serious competition because no candidate lists were made available. The only component of the election that is known to the public is that each delegate to the congress casts four ballots into boxes situated around the enormous auditorium of the Great Hall of the People. The two million strong People’s Liberation Army, which gets commands from the party rather than the country, unanimously voted to make Xi its commander.
Li Qiang, the number two official, is largely expected to take over as premier, theoretically in command of the Cabinet and caretaker of the economy. He is most known for harshly enforcing a “zero-COVID” lockdown on Shanghai last spring.
Xi’s hyper-nationalist agenda of making China the top political, military, and economic rival to the US and the chief authoritarian challenge to the Washington-led democratic world order has been given a major boost by his reappointment of loyalists to top posts and the beginning of a new term for himself as president.
Six others are on the Politburo Standing Committee with Xi, but all have close ties to the president and can be relied on to carry out his wishes on matters ranging from party discipline to economic management.