Chinese leader Xi Jinping formally awarded himself a record-breaking third term as the head of the state, completing his transition into the country's most powerful ruler in decades at a time of severe economic challenges and rising tensions with the United States and others.
On Friday, roughly 3,000 carefully-picked delegates in China's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, approved Xi's new term as the head of the state.
The reappointment of Xi in the largely ceremonial role is not a surprise. Xi scrapped a two-term limit on the head of the state role by revising the constitution in 2018, prompting suggestions he might stay in power for life.
Xi was also reappointed as chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him the commander of the two million-member People’s Liberation Army, a force that is the army of the party rather than the country.
But in reality, "Xi is likely to encounter unprecedented challenges during this term of office," said Li Linyi, a U.S.-based China commentator. Li pointed to the country's battered economy and the rising international pressures on the party.
On Wednesday, Xi called for “more quickly elevating the armed forces to world-class standards.”
This week's two sessions, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress, also ushered in the biggest political reshuffle as Xi strengthened the party's grip over the country.
On Friday, Zhao Leji was appointed as the head of the National People’s Congress, China's rubber-stamp legislature.
A holdover from the previous CCP's Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power in China headed by Xi, Zhao, 67, won Xi’s trust as head of the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, pursuing an anti-graft campaign that has frozen all potential opposition to the leader.
Meanwhile, Han Zheng was named to the largely ceremonial post of state vice leader.
Han is viewed as a member of a political faction—known as the "Jiang faction" for its loyalty to former CCP leader Jiang Zemin—that opposes Xi Jinping's leadership. The 68-year-old stepped down from the new Politburo Standing Committee last October as he reached retirement age.
Other top positions of the state will also be announced in the upcoming weekends, including the vice premier and different ministers.