On Friday, Xi Jinping cemented his monopoly on political power in China: with a ceremonial 2,952 to 0 vote, he secured a third term as China’s president, effectively rendering death the only thing that could put him out of power. His new term also ensures his government would continue in effect during a moment of rising tensions with the United States.
Xi, 69, has done everything since his rise to power to fill the Chinese Communist Party with loyalists in high-ranking positions since his presidency began in 2013; it all but assured that he’d face no personal opposition nor would his nationalist aim of positioning China as a global superpower fit to be the West’s greatest challenge. Chinese presidency–or “state chairman”– is a relatively toothless title. Real power resides with those at the head of the party and military, and Xi already holds both positions.
Despite his unquestioned authority, Xi faces several challenges that require immediate responses from China. The economy continues to struggle post-Covid and the population has declined for the first time in decades. China also has fierce opposition internationally for its military posture, human rights abuses, and stance towards Russia. Putin has congratulated Xi on his victory.
Nevertheless, Xi becomes the first Chinese leader since the revolution to serve for longer than a decade, and that includes founding father Mao Zedong.