BEIJING: China’s President Xi Jinping has secured a historic third term as the Communist Party’s leader, cementing his place as the nation’s most influential ruler since Mao Zedong.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) elected Xi as its general secretary for a precedent-breaking five-year term on Sunday, foreign media reported. “The world needs China,” said Xi Jinping as he spoke to the press after securing a historic third term as leader.
“China cannot develop without the world, and the world also needs China,” Xi said. “After more than 40 years of unflagging efforts towards reform and opening up, we have created two miracles — rapid economic development and long-term social stability.”
He promised to “work diligently in the performance of our duties to prove worthy of the great trust of our party and our people.” Xi is now all but certain to sail through to a third term as China’s president, due to be formally announced during the government’s annual legislative sessions in March next year.
The CPC also named a seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) led by Xi, its inner circle of power dominated by the party leader’s allies. Xi introduced the new lineup, walking at the head of the group as he led them onto the stage at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to meet reporters.
Shanghai Communist Party chief Li Qiang followed Xi, meaning that he is likely to succeed Li Keqiang as premier when the latter retires in March. The other members of China’s top governing body are Zhao Leji and Wang Huning, who return from the previous committee and newcomers Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi.
“I wish to thank the whole party sincerely for the trust you have placed in us,” Xi said after his appointment, and promised to “work diligently in the performance of our duties to prove worthy of the great trust of our party and our people”.
All of the PSC’s new members are perceived to have close allegiance to the 69-year-old Xi, who was also named the chairman of the Central Military Commission. The unveiling of the Standing Committee and the larger 24-member Politburo comes a day after the closing of the ruling Communist Party’s 20th Congress, where amendments were added to the party charter aimed at cementing the core status of Xi and the guiding role of his political thought within the party.
The Standing Committee lineup is further confirmation that Xi’s grip on power is undiminished by the events of a tumultuous year, including a sharp economic slowdown, frustration over his zero-Covid policy, and China’s increasing estrangement from the West, exacerbated by his support for Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“In terms of policymaking, it does mean that there is likely to be more deference to Xi Jinping’s own views about how to move the country and the economy forward,” Alvin Tan, head of Asia FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Singapore, told Reuters.
“I can imagine that zero-Covid policy is likely more entrenched, and there’s going to be further push on this issue of common prosperity and the like,” he said. “This is a leadership that will be focused on achieving Xi’s political goals, rather than pursuing their own agendas for what they think is best for the country,” said Drew Thompson, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. “There is only one correct way to govern, and that is Xi’s way.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated President Xi on securing an unprecedented third term as leader, and said he looked forward to further developing a “comprehensive partnership” between their two countries.
“The results of the Party Congress fully confirm your high political authority, as well as the unity of the party you lead,” Putin told Xi, according to the Kremlin’s website. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – also sent his congratulations.
Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday felicitated President Xi on his re-election as CPC general secretary for the third term. The president, on his Twitter handle, extended his heartiest congratulations to President Xi Jinping on his re-election as CPC General Secretary, and the best wishes for his health and happiness.
“He is a true friend of Pakistan and champion for all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between Pakistan and China, “the president posted in a tweet. On his Twitter handle, the prime minister posted, “On behalf of the entire Pakistani nation, I congratulate President Xi Jinping on his re-election as CPC General Secretary for the 3rd term.” The prime minister further said that it was a glowing tribute to President Xi’s sagacious stewardship and unwavering devotion for serving the people of China.
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