Xi Jinping secured a historic third term as China’s leader on Sunday and filled his inner circle with close allies, after a decade in power to secure complete dominance over the ruling Communist Party.
The party’s Central Committee elected Xi as its general secretary for another five-year term, bringing the country back towards one-man rule after decades of power-sharing among its elite.
“I wish to thank the whole party sincerely for the trust you have placed in us,” Xi told journalists at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People after the closed-door, rubber-stamp vote was announced.
Xi, 69, was also reappointed head of China’s Central Military Commission, keeping him in charge of the People’s Liberation Army.
He is now all but certain to sail through to a third term as the country’s president, due to be formally announced during the government’s annual legislative sessions in March.
In a wide-ranging acceptance speech on Sunday, Xi made signature remarks celebrating China’s rise as a global power and its success under his rule.
“The world needs China,” Xi said. “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.”
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Six of Xi’s proteges and allies were also unveiled on Sunday alongside him as members of the Politburo Standing Committee — the party’s apex of power that rules the country.
Current Shanghai Party boss Li Qiang — who oversaw a gruelling two-month Covid-19 lockdown in the financial capital this year — was named as number two in the Standing Committee.
This means he is likely to take over as premier from Li Keqiang, a former Xi rival who will retire next year.
Close aide Ding Xuexiang, Guangdong Party chief Li Xi and Beijing Party boss Cai Qi were also in the re-jigged lineup.
“The new Politburo Standing Committee confirms decisively that Xi has consolidated power at the top of the Communist Party to an extent unseen since the Mao era,” said Neil Thomas, a senior China analyst at Eurasia Group.
“Xi has installed allies onto all seven seats of the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, allowing him to dominate the political system for the foreseeable future.”