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Chinese President Xi Jinping secures 3rd term in power after re-election as General Secretary of the ruling CCP

Xi Jinping was re-elected as the President of China and Communist Party's General Secretary for a historical third five-year term by the party congress

Chinese President Xi Jinping was re-elected for a third term in power on Sunday, becoming the first leader of the ruling Communist Party to do so since party founder Mao Zedong. Xi Jinping was also re-elected as the Communist Party’s General Secretary for a historic third five-year term.

On Saturday, China’s Communist Party Congress concluded, with Xi Jinping solidifying his iron hold on the party. Xi, 69, has emerged as the party’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

Despite reaching the formal retirement age of 68 and completing a 10-year term, he was elected to the powerful Central Committee a day earlier by the party Congress.

The “election” of Xi Jinping to a third term in power officially ends the three-decade tradition followed by his predecessors, with the exception of Mao, of retiring after a 10-year tenure. Xi was elected in 2012 and will finish his 10-year term this year.

A seven-member Standing Committee, which was elected by the Political Bureau, elected Xi for a third, five-year term as General Secretary. The Central Committee members also chose a 25-member political bureau, which chooses the members of the Standing Committee to rule the country.

President Xi also promoted several of his loyalists to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of power in the ruling Communist Party. State media reported from Beijing’s Great Hall of the People that Shanghai Party chairman Li Qiang, close aide Ding Xuexiang, and Guangdong Party chief Li Xi were among the new lineup. Notably, no women have been inducted into the lineup.

According to observers, Xi’s emergence as China’s President, party leader, and military chief, with the prospect of becoming the leader for life in the footsteps of Mao, whose extremist ideological campaigns like the Cultural Revolution resulted in the extermination of millions, is widely expected to be viewed with unease and concern as the one-party state has now become a one-leader state.

On Saturday, former President Hu Jintao was physically dragged out of the party congress in the presence of the media. Hu Jintao, 80, was placed to the left of his successor, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Two stewards escorted him off the stage of Beijing’s largest auditorium, the Great Hall of the People.

A steward was seen repeatedly attempting to take Hu from his seat in video footage from the event. Hu Jintao then placed his hand on a piece of paper in Xi’s folder, but Xi moved quickly to lay his palm there. The episode is ironic given that Hu, 79, peacefully passed over control to Xi ten years ago in 2012.

The Congress also established a new anti-corruption department of the party called the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), which reports directly to Xi. According to official figures, the CCDI has sentenced about five million officials, including many high army generals, over the last ten years.

Several resolutions adopted by the Congress lauded Xi and his ideals, which combined Marxism and Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

“Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is the Marxism of contemporary China and the twenty-first century, embodying the best Chinese culture and ethos of our era,” the resolution stated. A resolution adopted at the Congress on an amendment to the CPC Constitution said that all party members should follow Xi’s leadership.

The Congress emphasizes that attaining the goals for the People’s Liberation Army’s centennial in 2027 and promptly lifting the people’s armed forces to world-class levels are critical challenges for constructing a modern socialist society in every way, according to the resolution.

The Congress urges the entire party, the entire military, and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to remain tightly united around the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi “at its core, to remember that empty talk will do nothing for our country and that only solid work will make it flourish,” it said.

The resolution lauded efforts to contain COVID-19 while also expressing strong opposition to Taiwan’s independence. China asserted its claim on Taiwan calling it a part of its mainland.

Ahead of the 20th Congress, Beijing witnessed rare public protests with banners hung on overpasses of major thoroughfares, protesting against Xi’s unpopular zero-COVID policy and authoritarian rule.

Battery-operated loudspeakers were also hung in some places blaring anti-Xi and anti-Zero COVID slogans. Police quickly moved to remove the banners and loudspeakers. Similar reports of protests had also come from different cities in China.

This week, a rare protest in Beijing featured enormous posters on a flyover calling for boycotts and the removal of Xi Jinping, in addition, some protestors in China are sharing anti-Jinping posters using AirDrop. 

Notably, The Guardian reported last week that multiple images and videos on social media showed plumes of smoke billowing over a bridge over a key street in the capital’s Haidian area.

Thousands of WeChat users hyped up anti-Xi narratives after this “bridge man” burned a tyre and draped two banners from the bridge calling for the ouster of “dictator and traitor Xi Jinping.”

China has a history of controlling not only its local media space through state-supervised content delivery but also the global media through harassment and intimidation of international correspondents operating in the country. However, it is frequently difficult for China to coerce the international media into toeing the establishment’s stance. As a result, the Chinese government uses intimidation and scare tactics to harass them.

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