Xi Jinping Re-elected as President of People’s Republic of China

BEIJING – Chinese leader Xi Jinping secured an unprecedented third term as president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Friday, after the National People’s Congress (NPC) voted unanimously in a rubber-stamp legislature.[0] This outcome has been widely expected since Xi orchestrated the abolishment of term limits with a constitutional amendment five years ago.[1]

Xi, 69, is now set to become the longest-serving leader since Mao Zedong, who ruled for nearly three decades.[2] The presidency in China is largely ceremonial; most of Xi’s power flows from his position as leader of the ruling Communist Party and commander-in-chief of the military.[1] But his re-appointment completes a comprehensive power grab that has been gathering pace and highlights Xi’s dominance over the Chinese political system.[3] The appointment also included 68-year-old Han Zheng, a former Politburo Standing Committee member, as vice president, and 66-year-old Zhao Leji as the new parliament chair.[4]

After the announcement, Xi bowed to the delegates as they applauded, and took an oath of office with his right hand held up in a fist.[1] He pledged to be loyal to the constitution and the “motherland”, and “work hard to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious and beautiful modern socialist country.”

The reappointment has been met with congratulations from leaders around the world, including Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who wrote to Xi on Friday.[5] Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Xi, hailing the strengthening ties between the two countries.[6]

Xi’s reappointment comes amid a broader reshuffle of leadership roles in the central government, or the State Council, and other state organizations that further increases Xi’s already firm grasp on the levers of power.[7] He is also faced with a series of diplomatic headwinds from Washington and other Western capitals, as relations plummeted in recent years over Beijing’s human rights record, military build-up, handling of Covid and growing partnership with Russia.[7]

The most consequential appointment is expected to be that of Li Qiang, one of Xi’s most trusted protégés, who is widely expected to be named Premier on Saturday.[3] Li was promoted to the number one spot in the party.

0. “China's Xi gains unprecedented third term as president” CNBC, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/10/chinas-xi-gains-unprecedented-third-term-as-president.html

1. “China's Xi Jinping, as expected, gets 5 more years as state president” WBUR News, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.wbur.org/npr/1162128750/chinas-xi-jinping-5-more-years-as-president

2. “China's Xi begins historic third term” Axios, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/03/10/china-xi-begins-historic-third-term

3. “Xi Jinping's norm-busting third term as China's president rubber stamped” KAKE, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.kake.com/story/48524571/xi-jinpings-norm-busting-third-term-as-chinas-president-rubber-stamped

4. “Xi Jinping begins historic third term as China's president” BBC, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-64911512

5. “Singapore leaders congratulate Xi Jinping on his reappointment as China's president” CNA, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/pm-lee-hsien-loong-congratulates-xi-jinping-halimah-yacob-president-3339226

6. “China’s parliament backs Xi Jinping for third term as president” Al Jazeera English, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/10/chinas-parliament-backs-xi-jinping-for-third-term-as-president

7. “Xi Jinping secures unprecedented third term as China's president in ceremonial vote” CNN, 10 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/09/china/china-xi-jinping-president-third-term-intl-hnk/index.html

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