Xi Jinping
File image of President of China Xi Jinping

New Delhi: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday created history, becoming the first leader of the ruling Communist Party after party founder Mao Zedong to get re-elected for an unprecedented third term in power with the prospect of ruling China for life.

69-year-old Xi, who was elected Sunday morning as General Secretary of the Communist Party for 3rd five-year tenure by the new seven-member Standing Committee packed with his supporters appeared before the local and foreign media here to herald the new era, widely termed ‘Xi era’.

Having ruled China for 10 years already, he will now stay on for at least another five-year term – and he could, in theory, make himself a leader for life.

The break with tradition makes him the most powerful leader in China since Chairman Mao and his vision has become increasingly unchallengeable.

The confirmation came at the end of the week-long 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China.

It is a once-every-five-year event with the central purpose of selecting the people who will sit at the top leadership roles for the next five years.

This includes the two groups seen as the apex of political power in China – the 25-strong Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee which is currently made up of seven people, including the president.

The new standing committee was revealed as President Xi led them on stage in rank order. His leadership of the procession served as the confirmation he will remain as the general secretary of the party. His official confirmation as president will happen in March.

The two-term limit on Chinese presidents was introduced in the early 1980s in the wake of Chairman Mao’s death.

Mao’s nearly 30-year rule bought great chaos, violence and instability to China – and the idea was to move to a more “collective leadership” model and ensure power could never again be so centralized in the hands of one person.

But in 2018, President Xi successfully removed the two-term limit from the constitution – paving the way for the consolidation of his power we have seen this weekend.

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