China's Xi Jinping secures unprecedented third term

STORY: China’s Xi Jinping was elected again for a record-breaking third term as president, at the end of a week of meetings for China’s two top political bodies, where he further tightened his control on the country.

Nearly 3,000 members of China’s parliament voted unanimously for Xi on Friday (March 10) in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, in a race where there was no other candidate.

“I swear to be loyal to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, to uphold its authority, to perform statutory duties, to be loyal to the motherland and its people, to work with diligence and honesty, to accept monitoring from the people, and to work hard to build a prosperous, democratic, civilized, harmonious, and beautiful modern socialist country.”

The limit of two five-year presidential terms was written into China’s constitution in 1982, six years after Mao Zedong’s death, by Deng Xiaoping, who recognized the dangers of one-man rule and the cult of personality after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

Xi did away with that in 2018 with near-unanimous support from the legislature.

And last October, the ruling Communist Party reconfirmed him as general secretary of the central committee for another five years.

The extension of Xi’s tenure this week comes as relations with Washington and the West worsen, over issues like Taiwan, the war in Ukraine, trade and human rights.

This week state media quoted Xi blaming the West for difficulties faced by China’s economy, saying, “led by the United States, the West has implemented all-round containment to suppress China, bringing unprecedented challenges to China's development.”

The annual parliamentary session, which ends Monday, will see other Xi-approved officials elected or appointed to key government posts – including premier-in-waiting Li Qiang – seen chatting to Xi just before Friday’s vote.

The Xi loyalist and former Shanghai party chief, who oversaw that city’s grinding COVID-19 lockdown, will soon be tasked with steering the world’s second-largest economy.

The parliament on Friday also elected Zhao Leji as the new parliament chair and Han Zheng as China’s new vice president.

Han headed oversight on policy decisions for Hong Kong and Macau, including during massive anti-government protests in 2019 in Hong Kong over a proposed extradition bill.