President Xi Jinping has been granted a third five-year term, paving the way for him to potentially remain in power indefinitely, after China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, endorsed his leadership. This decision was made months after he was re-elected as the leader of the Communist Party of China in October of last year, making him the first Chinese leader since Mao Zedong to continue holding power beyond the two traditional five-year terms.
On Friday, the NPC, commonly referred to as a “rubber stamp” parliament due to its routine endorsement of CPC decisions, voted as expected to approve Xi’s third term. All 2,952 NPC members, who are appointed by the ruling party, voted in favor of Xi.
In October, at the CPC’s last Congress, President Xi Jinping, age 69, broke with tradition and had himself named to a third five-year term as party general secretary. Previously, Chinese leaders handed over power once a decade. The deletion of the two-term limit on the presidency from the Chinese constitution prompted speculation that he may rule indefinitely. The election process for the CPC leadership remains largely secretive, with no candidate lists distributed and Xi and others believed to have run unopposed.
The election process for the CPC leadership is largely undisclosed, with no distribution of candidate lists, and it is believed that Xi and others ran unopposed. Additionally, Xi was unanimously appointed as the commander of the People’s Liberation Army, a 2 million-strong force that takes orders directly from the party, not the country.
This year’s annual session of the NPC is significant as it marks a once-in-a-decade change of leadership within the Chinese government, including the position of Premier, who presides over the central Cabinet or State Council. The current Premier, Li Keqiang, will end his term during this year’s NPC session, and his expected successor, Li Qiang, a close ally of Xi Jinping, is likely to be elected on Saturday. The names of the new leadership have already been approved by the CPC’s Plenum, led by Xi, a few weeks ago, making the NPC’s approval a routine formality.
The new Premier will address the annual press conference on Mar 13, the last day of this year’s annual NPC session.