Xi Jinping is China’s most dominant leader in decades – and his grip on power is tightening

Being handed an unprecedented third term completes a comprehensive power grab, writes Chris Stevenson

Tuesday 14 March 2023 10:29 GMT
China's President Xi Jinping swears under oath after being re-elected
China's President Xi Jinping swears under oath after being re-elected (AFP via Getty Images)

That China‘s rubber-stamp parliament handed Xi Jinping an unprecedented third term should come as little surprise, but it does illustrate the extent of his power grab.

The post of president is constitutionally ceremonial, but Xi’s true power stems from the fact that he is leader of the Chinese Communist Party (having already been granted a historic third term as party chief) and commander-in-chief of the military. Indeed, the members of the National People’s Congress who voted for Mr Xi are appointed by the ruling party.

Xi had already been awarded 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 even earlier, prompting suggestions he might stay in power for life.

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