Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Sunday secured an unprecedented third term as general secretary of China’s Communist Party, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The appointment comes after a week-long party congress during which the 69-year-old leader tightened his grip over the country, making him possibly the world’s most powerful individual, according to some analysts. And it paves the way for him to get another five-year term as the country’s president at the annual legislative session in March and to continue his confrontational line with the West.
Beijing has grown increasingly aggressive on both the military and economic fronts while cozying up to a warmongering Russia.
In a dramatic scene on Saturday during the highly choreographed meeting, former Chinese President Hu Jintao was unexpectedly escorted out of the closing ceremony of the Communist party congress, in what was seen by some as a sign of Hu deterring health and by others as a symbolic scene of Xi’s strengthened powers.
Xi also retained his title as head of the military.
He appointed to the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top governing body, officials who analysts say are his proteges and allies. Among them they mention for example Wang Huning, described as the ideologue who has shaped Xi’s nationalist views; Cai Qi, whose ties with Xi go back over two decades; and Ding Xuexiang, a close Xi aide who often travels with the president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory message to Xi on his third term, the Kremlin said. Putin told the Chinese president that he looked forward to further developing the “comprehensive relationship and strategic alliance between our two states.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is planning a trip to China next month and is set to be the first Western leader to greet Xi as the newly re-appointed leader. EU leaders at a meeting on Friday discussed the bloc’s line over China.
While Scholz insisted that the EU must remain a beacon of global trade, even with China, others such as outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said that many leaders during the discussion stressed that “we must not repeat the fact that we have been indifferent, indulgent, superficial in our relations with Russia.”
And they also stressed that “those that look like business ties … are part of an overall direction of the Chinese system, so they must be treated as such,” Draghi added.