Xi Jinping began an unprecedented third term as China’s president after he was endorsed by a unanimous vote from the 2,977-member National People’s Congress (NPC). Xi will head a hand-picked party and government team tasked with steering the world’s second-largest economy through challenges at home and abroad over the next five years.
Oath of the President and head of military:
After the voting, Xi took a constitutional oath, as both the country’s president and head of its military – a symbolic move to show the significance of the constitution after it was revised five years ago to scrap the presidential term limit, add Xi’s political theory and emphasise the party’s leadership of China.
The NPC also appointed former executive vice premier Han Zheng, who returns to Xi’s side as vice-president, making him the second Communist Party member without a rank to take the job since 1998 after Wang Qishan. Han got 2,952 votes.
A critical moment for China and Xi Jinping:
Analysts say it will be a critical period for both Xi and China as he needs to put the country back on an economic growth path to convince the world that China’s unique governance and development model works and that his ambitious political legacy is within reach amid intensified rivalry with the US, the potential for conflict over Taiwan and concerns about the economic impact of China’s rapidly ageing population.
Xi’s trusted allies will be appointed to key government roles in the remaining two days of the annual parliamentary session.
Chinese political elite’s unequivocal loyalty:
As was the case five years ago – when Xi’s previous term was also approved unanimously – the vote by the largely ceremonial legislature was more of a political gesture showing the Chinese political elite’s unequivocal loyalty and deference.
The display gives Xi a strong mandate for the next five years as the country’s most powerful leader in decades.