China's Xi Jinping set to take charge today as president for historic 3rd term
Xi is likely to easily win National People’s Congress backing to serve five more years, demonstrating his unrivaled grip over the ruling Communist Party.
China is expected to hand Xi Jinping a third term as president when the roughly 3,000 members of its rubber-stamp legislature vote Friday, completing his ascension as supreme leader of the world’s No. 2 economy.
Xi is likely to easily win National People’s Congress backing to serve five more years, demonstrating his unrivaled grip over the ruling Communist Party. He took all 2,970 ballots cast in 2018, the same year China abolished constitutional provisions that would’ve prevented him from getting a third term.
The annual legislative gathering is expected to also reappoint Xi as chairman of the Central Military Commission, a post that makes him chief of the world’s the biggest armed forces in terms of active personnel. The NPC will install its own leader, likely former anti-graft chief Zhao Leji, who’s already the party’s No. 3 official.
A vice president will be voted into office, too, filling the role previously occupied by Wang Qishan.
The balloting is largely procedural, since Xi secured his status atop the party that dominates politics in China at a major congress in the fall. He used that event to pack top party positions with his allies, while pushing out potential rivals for power.
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The maneuvering effectively discarded the collective leadership approach that China used since its reform and opening experiment started in the late 1970s, raising concern among investors and others that Xi would not face any checks on his power, or questions about policy. A former top contender to someday lead China, Hu Chunhua, was even left off the party’s 24-member Politburo altogether.
Xi used the annual NPC gathering this year to revamp the government to, he hopes, better compete in the increasingly testy rivalry with the US. On Tuesday, China unveiled plans to strengthen oversight of its $60 trillion financial system, create a new agency to manage data, and restructure the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The objective was to “better allocate resources to overcome challenges in key and core technologies, and move faster toward greater self-reliance in science and technology,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.