China’s Xi faces historic third term

China’s Xi faces historic third term


China’s Xi faces historic third term

Beijing (AFP) –

Matthew WALSH, Laurie CHEN

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday was poised to secure a historic third term in power, cementing his position as the nation’s most influential leader since founder Mao Zedong.

Xi is all but certain to be unveiled again as general secretary of the ruling Communist Party – which will decisively tilt the country back towards one-man rule after decades of power-sharing among its elite.

His anointing will cap a week-long gathering of party loyalists in China’s capital, at which senior cadres reaffirmed his “core” position in leadership and approved a sweeping reshuffle that saw several top officials resign.

However, in an unexpected move that riddled negotiations at the Great Hall of the People, former leader Hu Jintao was ushered out of the closing ceremony.

The frail-looking 79-year-old appeared reluctant to leave the front row where he sat next to Xi.

State media reported late Saturday that Hu insisted on attending the session despite feeling unwell.

“When he was not feeling well during the session, due to health concerns, his staff escorted him to a room adjacent to the meeting venue to rest. He’s doing much better now,” Xinhua said on Twitter.

– Sunday Reveal –

Delegates also elected a new Central Committee of around 200 senior party officials, which will gather on Sunday to elect the Standing Committee – the pinnacle of Chinese political power, which Xi will sit firmly at the helm.

The Standing Committee is then expected to be presented to foreign and domestic media at a press conference around noon (0400 GMT) in the Great Hall of the People.

A list of officials on the new Central Committee earlier revealed that four out of seven members of the Standing Committee will be replaced, allowing Xi to further fill the top body with loyalists.

“Any way you look at it, it’s almost a total victory for Xi,” said Willy Lam, a policy analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The move will allow Xi to sail through to a third term as China’s president, to be formally announced during the government’s annual terms in March.

– ‘Marxism of the 21st Century’ –

It concludes a triumphant week in which China’s leaders have hailed their leadership of the country for the past five years.

In his opening remarks at its 20th Congress last Sunday, Xi hailed the party’s achievements while glossing over domestic problems like the faltering economy and the damage caused by its tough zero-Covid policy.

Strong on ideological rhetoric and reckless politics, a defiant Xi also urged party members to brace themselves against numerous challenges, including a hardening geopolitical climate.

Analysts were watching closely whether the party charter would be amended to enshrine “Xi Jinping Thought” as a guiding philosophy, a move that would put Xi on a par with Mao.

This did not happen, although one resolution called the creed “the Marxism of contemporary China and the 21st century,” adding that it “embodies the best Chinese culture and ethos of that era.”

Earlier in 2018, Xi scrapped the presidential two-term limit, paving the way for him to rule indefinitely.

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