Xi awarded 3rd term as China's president, extending rule

The vote for Xi was 2,952 to 0 by the National People's Congress, members of which are appointed by the ruling Communist Party.
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Posted at 10:07 AM, Mar 10, 2023

Chinese leader Xi Jinping was awarded a third five-year term as the nation's president Friday, putting him on track to stay in power for life at a time of severe economic challenges and rising tensions with the U.S. and others.

The endorsement of Xi's appointment by the ceremonial National People's Congress was a foregone conclusion for a leader who has sidelined potential rivals and filled the top ranks of the ruling Communist Party with his supporters since taking power in 2012.

The vote for Xi was 2,952 to 0 by the NPC, members of which are appointed by the ruling party.

Xi, 69, had himself named to a third five-year term as party general secretary in October, breaking with a tradition under which Chinese leaders handed over power once a decade. A two-term limit on the figurehead presidency was deleted from the Chinese Constitution earlier, prompting suggestions he might stay in power for life.

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang sharpened the warning, saying Washington faces possible "conflict and confrontation" if it fails to change course.


No candidate lists were distributed, and Xi and those awarded other posts were believed to have run unopposed. The election remains almost entirely shrouded in secrecy, apart from the process in which delegates to the congress put four ballots into boxes placed around the vast auditorium of the Great Hall of the People.

Xi was also unanimously named commander of the 2 million-member People's Liberation Army, a force that explicitly takes its orders from the party rather than the country.

Xi's new term and the appointment of loyalists to top posts underscores his near-total monopoly on Chinese political power, eliminating any potential opposition to his hyper-nationalistic agenda of building China into the top political, military and economic rival to the U.S. and the chief authoritarian challenge to the Washington-led democratic world order.

Xi and his new Foreign Minister Qin Gang have set a highly combative tone for relations with the U.S., amid tensions over trade, technology, Taiwan, human rights and Beijing's refusal to criticize Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Qin warned in unusually stark terms about the possibility of U.S.-China frictions leading to something more dire.

“If the United States does not hit the brake, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing and there surely will be conflict and confrontation,” Qin said in his first news conference since taking up his post last year.

The American and Chinese flags.

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That echoed comments at a small group meeting of delegates from Xi on Monday, in which he said that “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented grave challenges to our nation’s development.”

Xi followed up on Wednesday by calling for “more quickly elevating the armed forces to world-class standards.”

China must maximize its “national strategic capabilities” in a bid to “systematically upgrade the country’s overall strength to cope with strategic risks, safeguard strategic interests and realize strategic objectives,” Xi was quoted as saying to a meeting of delegates by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.