Xi Jinping has now been confirmed as leader of China for an unprecedented and record breaking third term, after a week-long political meeting eliminated ‘key rivals’ and strengthened his political power. The 20th party Congress, the most important meeting of the ruling Chinese Communist party five-year political cycle, saw about 2,400 delegates gathering in Beijing to rubber-stamp major reshuffles and constitutional changes.
At a press event on Sunday, seven key Xi loyalists were revealed as members of China’s most powerful political body, the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), as they walked on stage in order of rank. It was unprecedented as the privilege of three-term election was only accorded to party founder Mao Zedong.
Li Qiang, the party secretary of Shanghai, is likely to be appointed the next premier in March 2023 when Li Keqiang steps down after two terms.While Li’s prospects might have been dented by the chaos of Shanghai’s protracted COVID-19 lockdown, analysts say that Xi values loyalty and trustworthiness above all
Xi Jinping is 69. He was elected to the powerful Central Committee despite crossing the official retirement age of 68 and completing 10-year tenure.
Fact Check On The Chinese Leader
The Chinese leader comes from a political family. His father Xi Zhongshun was a close associate of Chinese military commander Liu Zhidan. In 1962, Senior Xi was thrown into prison and his wife (Xi Jinping’s mom), too, was banished to a labour camp. Xi Jinping, like many youngsters of his time, was asked to “denounce” his parents by those promoted to positions of responsibility.)
Several senior leaders including the number two leader Premier Li Keqiang either retired or failed to make it to the Central Committee resulting in a major shakeup of China’s politics and government. Li Qiang, the party secretary of Shanghai, is likely to be appointed the next premier in March 2023 when Li Keqiang steps down after two terms. Shanghai has historically been a breeding ground for top national leaders. While Li’s prospects might have been dented by the chaos of Shanghai’s protracted COVID-19 lockdown, analysts say that Xi values loyalty and trustworthiness above all. Li was Xi’s Chief of Staff from 2004 to 2007 when Xi was Zhejiang province’s top party boss.
In 2012, China watchers said the Chinese Communist Party needs a leader who is both strong and courageous. More importantly, a question was posed by many; “Is Xi such a person?”
In short and in retrospect, one can describe Xi Jinping as someone who came up the ladder the hard way. It was only in 1997 when Xi’s rise at the national level began to fructify. At the 15th CCP Congress, Xi was elected a member of the Central Committee. He was then only 43.
In Mao’s Mould
Chinese President Xi Jinping has fallen into the dictator’s trap similarly to supreme leader Mao Zedong as he also took entire power into his hand and is now seeking a third term to achieve his goal with a word of caution as it could spell years of uncertainty as problems mount around an unbound leader who has shown little inclination to share decision-making.
Xi Jinping has removed all the rivals, who were stopping him from achieving his third-term goal. Two more top former officials were jailed last month, accused of financial crimes and disloyalty to Xi. This move by Xi shows his fealty to himself. Even his subordinates compete to prove their loyalty by carrying out his policies to the extreme rather than raising harsh truths about negative consequences.
This is precisely the sort of situation that Deng Xiaoping, former Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and other ex-party leaders had set out to prevent with changes introduced decades ago.
Earlier, Mao also did the same thing, concentrating more power in his hands. He misguided Great Leap Forward, a campaign to greatly increase agrarian and industrial output in the late 1950s that led instead to a devastating famine and then to the chaotic political violence of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
After Mao’s death, Deng introduced term limits and retirement ages for leading posts in the government and military and gave party institutions more authority, reported The New York Times.
Party institutions — their members all appointed by senior leaders — proved to be pushovers for Xi. No visible resistance was raised when he engineered the abolition of presidential term limits in 2018, which could allow Xi, who is 69, to stay in power until he dies or is deposed in a power struggle.
Xi, who favours a state-led, centrally controlled economy, began an abrupt crackdown on major Chinese internet companies last year, as part of a plan to redistribute wealth and rein in private sector. That has been put on the back burner for now, but not before it wiped billions of dollars from the valuations of innovative companies and cast a pall over entrepreneurship, exacerbating an extended Chinese economic slowdown, according to The New York Times. Not only this, but when the whole world was trying to adjust to the “new normal,” Xi refused to discontinue his zero-tolerance approach and continued the Zero-COVID policy which imposes mass lockdowns and surveillance in a bandwagon dynamic that has echoes of the Great Leap Forward when officials over-complied with Mao’s damaging directives.
Around 2017, Xi Jinping’s politics and foreign policy was seen as activist posturing and thus invited easy comparison to Donald Trump’s difficulties in accomplishing his own diplomatic agenda. Chinese media hailed Xi’s stint as one known for pushing through “historic changes”. It was also observed that Beijing would give up a well known Chinese guiding principle of “avoiding brightness, cherishing obscurity” meaning a low-profile foreign policy.
Both Chinese media and Western experts were also overwhelmed by what was given out as the ‘Xi Jinping Thought’. Among the top world leaders to congratulate Xi were North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“The results of the Party Congress fully confirm your high political authority, as well as the unity of the party you lead,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin.
In 2018, Xi spearheaded the abolition of presidential term limits on leaders, paving the way for him to become leader for life. Massive anti-corruption purges during his tenure, and this week’s political reshuffles have ensured there is little, if any, opposition remaining
In 2018, Xi spearheaded the abolition of presidential term limits on leaders, paving the way for him to become leader for life. Massive anti-corruption purges during his tenure, and this week’s political reshuffles have ensured there is little, if any, opposition remaining.
A list of delegates appointed to the 205-member central committee on Saturday revealed some of the most senior rivals to Xi, with links to other factions in the party and their own power base, had been shuffled into retirement, says The Guardian.