Xi Jinping was today re-elected as president of China for a second five-year tenure by the country’s rubber-stamp parliament. The move comes after Parliament scrapped the two-term rule for the presidency and allowed him to have a life-long tenure. Parliament also elected 64-year-old Xi as the head of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall high command of the two million strong Chinese military. Xi has already been elected as general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) at its once-in-five-year congress in October last year. Xi’s loyalist and close confidant Wang Qishan has been elected as vice president, who like Xi is set for a lifelong tenure.
Another of Xi’s close aides Li Zhanshu who was chief of staff was elected chairman of NPC. The parliament also ratified a new plan to revamp the government.
Today’s election comes after Parliament on March 11 ratified the constitutional amendment for removing the two-term limit for president and vice president proposed by the CPC. The election will ensure Xi heads the CPC, the military and the presidency, perhaps for life. He is the first Chinese leader to have that privilege after party founder Chairman Mao Zedong who ruled China from 1949 till his death in 1976.
Technically, the election marks Xi’s second-term which would last till 2023. But after the constitutional amendments removed the term limit he is expected to have a limitless tenure.
Xi was elected unanimously as president and head of CMC by 2,970 deputies of National People’s Congress (NPC) which has the reputation of being a rubber-stamp parliament for routinely ratifying CPC proposals. Wang, however got 2,969, one vote less in the carefully choreographed poll. Observers say the one vote dissent was officially sanctioned to show diversity in China’s political system.
After the results were announced in the nationally televised show of the NPC proceedings, Xi bowed and shook hands with colleagues.
For the first time, he along with other officials took oath on the newly-amended Constitution swearing to be faithful to the charter of the People’s Republic of China, defend its authority, be loyal to the country and the people.