Chinese leader Xi Jinping was awarded a third five-year term as president on Friday, putting him on track to stay in power for life.
The approval of Xi’s nomination by the National People’s Congress ceremony was a fatality for a leader who has swept aside potential rivals and filled the upper ranks of the ruling Communist Party with his supporters since coming to power in 2012.
The vote for Xi was 2,952 to 0 by the NPC, whose members are appointed by the ruling party.
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Xi, 69, nominated himself for a third five-year term as party general secretary in October, breaking with a tradition of China’s leaders handing over power once a decade. A two-term limit on the figurehead’s presidency was removed from China’s constitution earlier, hinting he could stay in power for life.
No list of candidates was distributed, and it is believed that Xi and those who won other positions ran unopposed. The electoral process remains almost entirely shrouded in secrecy, except for the process by which congress delegates placed four ballots in ballot boxes placed around the vast auditorium of the Great Hall of the People.
Xi was also unanimously named commander of the 2 million strong People’s Liberation Army, a force that explicitly takes its orders from the party rather than the country.
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In another vote, the party’s third official, Zhao Leji, was named head of the National People’s Congress. The vast majority of the body’s legislative work is directed by its Standing Committee, which meets year-round.
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A remnant of the former Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top political power headed by Xi, Zhao, 67, has earned Xi’s trust as head of the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, continuing an anti-corruption campaign that has frozen any potential opposition to the leader.
Former Shanghai party leader and member of the last Politburo standing committee, Han Zheng, was appointed to the largely ceremonial post of state vice president.
Xi, Zhao and Han were then sworn in with one hand on a copy of the Chinese constitution.
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