China’s ruling Communist Party elevated five new officials to assist President Xi as he embarked on a second five-year term. It stopped short of designating an obvious successor, thereby strengthening his position.
Some commentators said Mr Xi, who was given a renewed mandate during the party’s five-yearly national congress, was now the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, who ruled as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.
China, a one-party state that is frequently criticised for human rights abuses an its intolerance of dissent, is a crucial trading partner for the US. Earlier this year, Mr Trump invited Mr Xi to his private estate in Florida.
Mr Trump said he had spoken to Mr Xi to congratulate him on a new leadership lineup. He said they had also spoken about trade and North Korea.
“Spoke to President Xi of China to congratulate him on his extraordinary elevation. Also discussed NoKo & trade, two very important subjects,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr Trump’s former strategic adviser, Steve Bannon, has expressed the belief that China represents an existential threat to the US’s global dominance.
The Associated Press said the fact that an an obvious successor was not appointed was an indication of Mr Xi’s longer-term ambitions, according to Joseph Fewsmith, an expert on Chinese politics at Boston University.
“It suggests that Xi will likely serve a third term, and that he is likely to name his own successor,” Mr Fewsmith said. “We have not seen that for two decades.”
Speaking to reporters, Mr Xi said: “We will mobilise the whole party and the whole country in a resolute push to deliver on our pledge and eradicate poverty in China.”
Some reports said that because the party had formally written his Mr Xi name into the constitution, he now shared the same status of Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, who became China’s most powerful leader in 1978 until his retirement in 1989.
And he is seeking to make China a superpower while rejecting Western beliefs about democracy and free speech.
“No one doubts Xi bestrides the landscape like a colossus,” said Jeremy Paltiel, a China expert at Canada’s Carleton University. “Organised or even unorganised resistance is inconceivable.”
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