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China’s Xi Jinping wins 3rd term as president as term limits overturned

 March 10, 2023

China's largely ceremonial parliament, the National People's Congress, held an election on Friday with only one predetermined outcome.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was unanimously re-elected by the ceremonial body to an unprecedented third five-year presidential term, the Daily Mail reported.

The move was essentially a formality as Xi had already secured in October new five-year terms as head of both the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military, which are the actual centers of power in Beijing, and further cemented his sway over the ruling regime.

Stage was set five years ago

No president has ever served more than two terms in the history of China's communist regime, but CNBC reported in 2018 that the NPC had given its rubber stamp of approval to a proposed amendment to the Chinese constitution to remove its two-term limit on the presidency.

That term limit had been added to the communist nation's constitution in 1976 by then-President Deng Xiaoping following the death of Mao Zedong and had been intended to avoid future instances of the sort of "cult of personality" one-man rule that had been in place for decades under Mao.

That move paved the way for Xi to continue serving as president of the regime once his second five-year term expired in 2023, and set the stage for the exact sort of situation of consolidated power in one individual that Deng had sought to prevent through collective leadership.

Xi loyalists elected to other leadership positions

The Associated Press reported that all 2,952 members of the NPC, who are appointed by the ruling party, voted in favor of granting Xi a third five-year term as president, though it is likely that there were no other names on the ballot for members to choose from.

The ceremonial parliament also cast ballots for other high-ranking leadership positions in the regime and, unsurprisingly, elected staunch loyalists of Xi to those various posts.

That includes Zhao Leji as head of the NPC, Han Zheng as the ceremonial vice president, and Wang Huning as head of the powerful advisory committee that controls the NPC.

In addition, Li Qiang was selected to serve in the position of premier, which ostensibly controls the presidential cabinet and national economy.

Xi's re-election was "highly expected" in D.C.

Reuters reported that the Biden White House was not caught off guard by the unprecedented awarding of a third term to President Xi Jinping.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, "Mr. Xi's third term is certainly coming as no surprise to anyone here. That was all highly expected."

Indeed, given that Xi had already been named to new terms as head of the party and military last year, his receiving another term as president was essentially a foregone conclusion, and simply confirms that he is the most powerful ruler of China since the communist People's Republic was first founded by Mao.

Xi has important issues to deal with

Yet, while Xi's continued leadership over China was a sure thing, it will not go completely unchallenged, as the communist regime faces problems both domestically and externally, per Reuters.

Within China, its economy is broadly diminished and growth is stunted as the nation struggles to fully recover from the exceedingly strict "zero-COVID" lockdown policies that were only just recently lifted after nearly three years.

Outside of China, Xi faces rising tensions with the West, particularly the U.S., over a variety of issues, including trade and human rights abuses, but also the expansionist threat posed against Taiwan and other neighbors in East Asia and the Pacific region, not to mention China's apparent support for and refusal to condemn Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The AP noted that two of the first congratulatory calls for Xi with respect to his third term came from Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Un.