Leader for life: Xi Jinping secures historic third term as China’s president

Xi Jinping has secured a record third five-year term as China’s president, further tightening his grip as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. Reports said the elevation by the rubber-stamp parliament on Friday (March 10) paves the way for Xi to be the leader for life.

He was also re-elected as head of the country’s Central Military Commission in a unanimous vote. Nearly 3,000 members of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), voted in the Great Hall of the People for the 69-year-old to become president again. The election had no other candidate.

The voting lasted for about an hour and the electronic counting was completed in about 15 minutes. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Xi on his third term as China’s leader. In a statement, Putin hailed the strengthening ties between the two countries.

“Dear friend, please accept sincere congratulations,” Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin. “Russia highly values your personal contribution toward the strengthening of ties… and strategic cooperation between our nations.”

Xi had done away with presidential term limits in 2018, clearing the way for him to gain another term. Last October, he was reconfirmed for another five years as general secretary of the central committee of the ruling Communist Party, making things set in his favour.

Following Xi’s election, officials approved by him are set to be appointed or elected to fill top positions in the cabinet over the next two days. This will include premier-in-waiting Li Qiang, who is expected to be named to China’s No. 2 post, putting him in charge of managing the world’s second-largest economy.

The election sets up Xi to become communist China’s longest-serving president. He might even be able to rule well into his seventies, especially in the absence of an opponent.

Xi faced unprecedented opposition from the people of the country for the zero-Covid policy that kept people indoors and hurt the economy. Following the abrupt scrapping of the policy, China witnessed a wave of infections and deaths, but the reported numbers were mostly less than what the experts predicted to be.

(With inputs from agencies)

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