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Xi Secures Record 3rd Term as Chinese President; Says ‘World Needs China’ in Victory Speech

Xi Jinping on Sunday secured a record third term as China’s leader after a week-long session by the key congress committee in which he cemented his control over the ruling Communist Party and as the country’s most powerful and influential leader since founder Mao Zedong.

Xi vowed to “work diligently” after securing the historic term. “I wish to thank the whole Party sincerely for the trust you have placed in us,” he said during his victory speech at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, promising to “prove worthy of the great trust of our Party and our people.”

The all-powerful central committee of the Communist Party Congress made several exceptions including changing its very constitution granting Xi a decisive one-man rule after decades of power-sharing among its elite.

President Xi was picked as the party’s general secretary for an unprecedented third five-year term in a closed-door vote. This would imply that he is almost certain to be continue on as the president, an announcement that would be made at the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress in March.

His anointment came after a week-long Congress of 2,300 hand-picked party delegates who all endorsed Xi’s “core position” in the party leadership and also approved a sweeping reshuffle in the new committee.

‘China against the world’

In his big message to the world after sailing though the vote that makes him the Chinese head for a third term, Xi warned that “the world needs China” and that China too cannot develop without the world. “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.”

Xi Reappointed Head of Chinese Military

Xi, 69, was elected despite crossing the official retirement age of 68 and completing 10-year tenure. Xi was also reappointed as the head of China’s military, reports AFP. Xi was elected at the first plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Central Committee, Xinhua reported, adding he “was also named chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission at the session”.

The Congress that convenes once in five years, concluded its week-long session on Saturday and elected 205 regular Central Committee members and 171 alternate members.

President Xi also promoted some of his closest allies into the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power in the ruling Communist Party, reports AFP. Shanghai Party boss Li Qiang, close aide Ding Xuexiang and Guangdong Party chief Li Xi were among the new lineup, state media reported from Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Big Names Missing from Committee List

The power grab however led to several senior leaders being edged out. Several names, especially that of 67-year-old Premier Li, the nation’s No. 2 official; National People’s Congress chairman Li Zhanshu, 72; Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Wang Yang, 67; and Vice-Premier Han Zheng, 68, were conspicuously missing from the Central Committee list. They are all part of the outgoing seven-member Standing Committee headed by Xi, reports Reuters.

On the last day, the Congress also briefly witnessed an embarrassing scene as former president Hu Jintao, 79, was escorted out of the podium. Hu, who handed over the power to Xi in 2012 in a smooth transition after completing a 10-year tenure, appeared reluctant to leave but was escorted out by his aides. There was no explanation given about what happened.

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

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)

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