Since the founder of the state, Mao Tsetung, no leader in China has been as powerful as Xi Jinping. The Chinese People’s Congress has now confirmed the head of state and party leader for an unprecedented third term as president. The 2,952 hand-picked delegates voted unanimously at their annual meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday to extend his tenure at the head of state and military by a further five years. The parliament, which was not freely elected, also approved the largest government restructuring in a long time, which is intended to strengthen the second-largest economy for international competition, especially with the USA.
Congratulations from Russia
The first congratulations came from Russia: “Dear friend, please accept my sincere congratulations,” said Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. “Russia greatly appreciates your personal contribution to strengthening ties and strategic cooperation between our nations.” He is sure “that through our joint action we will ensure the development of fruitful Russian-Chinese cooperation in many areas”.
The sole ruler
At the party congress in October, the 69-year-old Xi Jinping defied previously respected age and term limits and had an enduring leadership role enshrined in the party constitution. With his sole rule, he ties in with the founder of the state and revolutionary Mao Tsetung, who, however, had brought chaos to the country.
Xi Jinping was also confirmed as chairman of the Military Commission, which effectively mirrors the Communist Party’s Military Commission at the government level, which he heads. He remains commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army.
After the vote, two lines of honor guard soldiers goose-stepped through the hall and placed the constitution on the lectern, where Xi Jinping then took his oath of office to great applause. It was also noticeable that he was the only one with two cups of tea in front of him: everyone else on the podium only got one. Even this small detail should emphasize Xi’s unlimited power.
- ZIB 1: Xi Jinping begins third term
Biggest government reshuffle
The former First Vice Premier Han Zheng (68) was also unanimously appointed as the new Vice President. Experts expect that the previous coordinator for Hong Kong and Macao, like his predecessor Wang Qishan (74), will also play a role in foreign policy. The new head of parliament was Zhao Leji (66), a member of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
At the annual conference, which will last until Monday, the largest government reshuffle in ten years is to be completed. Above all, close confidants of Xi Jinping move up. Former Shanghai party leader Li Qiang will become the new prime minister on Saturday. The 63-year-old succeeds Li Keqiang (67), who was not in Xi Jinping’s camp and is stepping down after two terms.
In view of increasing pressure from the USA, a better starting position in international competition and more technological independence were given as the goal. However, this restructuring is also associated with job cuts in government bodies: Five percent of the jobs are to be cut – the largest number since 1998. On the other hand, sensitive issues such as China’s handling of the corona pandemic, which had triggered violent public protests for the first time in years, were largely avoided.