Beijing: Xi Jinping was on Friday unanimously elected as Chinese President for the third time, making him the country’s longest-serving leader since founding father Mao Zedong.
According to Chinese reports, thousands of delegates at the National People’s Congress (NPC)in Beijing voted on Xi’s appointment as president and head of the military for another five years. However, the process was a formality in China’s rubber-stamp parliament after Xi, 69, was confirmed as chief of the ruling Communist Party at a twice-a-decade congress in October.
All 2,952 NPC delegates cast a ballot approving a new mandate for Xi. Previously, the NPC had ditched term limits, clearing the way for Xi to potentially rule for life.
Delegates also voted to install Vice Premier Han Zheng as China’s vice president, a largely ceremonial position.
A sweeping set of reforms, including setting up a new financial sector watchdog and national data agency, was approved in a move that may herald tighter restrictions on key sectors of the world’s Number 2 economy, according to Nikkei Asia.
Mary Gallagher, a political science professor at the University of Michigan, as quoted by Nikkei Asia, said: “Xi Jinping is doing two things at the same time. He is centralizing power to the centre while also strengthening the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] at the expense of the state. Doing these two things at once is unprecedented in the reform era.”
The moves could make it more difficult for local municipalities to govern themselves, Gallagher added, as they grapple with shouldering huge virus curb costs incurred under Xi’s signature zero-COVID policy and slumping revenue from a slowing property market.
“Effective local governance will be more difficult under these conditions though local governments will be more compliant with the center,” Gallagher told Nikkei Asia.
Xi’s appointment on Friday comes as a new premier and cabinet are set to be confirmed over the weekend before the NPC wraps up on Monday.
Nikkei Asia recently reported that China is slowly becoming a suffocating police state like the former Soviet Union as President Xi Jinping wanted the security apparatus under his direct grip.
The sources have expressed concern over the possibility of creating a new police and state security organization, which would be placed under the direct command of Xi, the “core” of the party’s Central Committee.
These concerns came after the communique issued on Tuesday after a three-day session of the party’s leadership — known as the second plenary session of the party’s 20th Central Committee.
As per the sources cited by Nikkei Asia, Xi is planning to beef up organizations related to state security and public security under a completely non-traditional framework.
(With agency inputs)