President Xi Jinping on Wednesday secured a second term as the head of the ruling Communist Party of China as the new leadership that will rule the world’s second-largest economy for the next five years was unveiled, cementing his status as the most powerful man to lead the country in decades.
Xi, 64, who was elected in a closed-door vote to head the Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, introduced the new leadership in an elaborate ceremony at Beijing’s massive Great Hall of the People with no clear indication of a successor.
Premier Li Keqiang retained his seat on the all-powerful seven-member committee, which has five new faces.
The five new members in the ruling council are Li Zhanshu, 67, vice premier Wang Yang, 62, leading Communist Party theoretician Wang Huning, 62, party organisation department head Zhao Leji, 60, and Shanghai party chief Han Zheng, 63.
The new faces replaced leaders who had reached an informal retirement age of 68. The age of the new leadership gives an indication that none of them could succeed Xi at the next party Congress in 2022.
The announcement follows the end of the week-long Communist Party National Congress, the biggest event in China’s political calendar, which is held every five years.
Xi and Li, 62 walked along with members of the new Politburo Standing Committee before a media event telecast live across the world.
Xi in a brief address after introducing the new committee said, “Over the past five years we have set out a broad agenda, some tasks have been completed while others need more work.”
“With decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. In this new context, we must get a new look and, more importantly, make new accomplishments,” he said.
He spoke about the China entering new era of modernisation.
“As I look ahead to the next five years, I see several important junctures and signposts,” Xi said.
Stating that the coming five years between the 19th and the 20th Party Congress is the period in which the timeframes of the two Centenary goals will converge, Xi said, “Not only we must deliver the first centenary goal, we must also embark on the journey towards the second centenary goal.”
“Peace and development are precious and should be valued. The CPC will work with other countries for shared future and the noble cause of peace and development of all humanity,” he said.
Over the past five years, China’s GDP rose from 54 trillion yuan (USD 8.2 trillion) to 80 trillion yuan, contributing more than 30 per cent of global economic growth.
Xi also thanked the national and international media for working hard in reporting about the party’s key Congress.
Though the ruling Communist Party of China is guided by the collective leadership principle, Xi who emerged as the post powerful leader with his ideological thoughts incorporated in the party Constitution and declared earlier as “core leader” has acquired a higher status than other members of the Standing Committee and party, therefore expected to have his way on all policy matters.
Xi, who heads the party, presidency and the military has stamped his authority with massive anti-corruption campaign and the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to spread China’s influence in the world.
The once-in-five-years Congress of the CPC on its final day yesterday approved Xi’s ideology to be written into its Constitution, which is in addition to the title of “core leader” conferred on him last year that analysts say enhances his leadership status above other leaders of the party.
Xi’s concept of “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era” was added to the party’s Constitution, elevating him on par with modern China’s founder Chairman Mao Zedong and his successor Deng Xiaoping.
Till now, only the thoughts of Mao and his successor Deng were enshrined in the Constitution of the world’s longest ruling Communist Party, interpreting the complex doctrine of Marxism with Chinese characteristics.
The thoughts of Deng, China’s reformist leader, were added posthumously.
The thoughts of two of Xi’s predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, were mentioned in the Constitution but not their names. This makes Xi only the third leader to have his thoughts on governance enshrined, which will now be part of school textbooks all over China.
Xi’s confidant Zhao Leji was elected secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the CPC.
Zhao was elected at a plenary session of the CCDI, at which the CCDI also elected its deputy secretaries and Standing Committee members.