Xi Jinping consolidates power as he secures historic third term

As China's President Xi Jinping settles in for a historic third term, some expect will see him stay in power for life, ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports

This is not going to be five more years of the same.

President Xi has consolidated his power and will be emboldened to push through an even more aggressive, single-minded socialist agenda at home, and abroad.

There was little doubt that it would be him leading out China’s new leadership team on Sunday afternoon, confirming he had secured an historic third term at the helm of the Communist Party. 

Such is the opaque and obscure nature of Chinese politics, it wasn’t until that point when the huge doors gold doors in the Hall opened, and he stepped through, that it was official.  

New members of the Politburo Standing Committee. Credit: AP

While it was no surprise to see Xi Jinping still in charge, there had been much speculation over the six men he would choose to be on his top team. Four out of six of the standing committee ended up being new appointments. All men are Xi loyalists.

The most surprising and audacious appointment in the new line-up was Li Qiangas Premier.

He is the Shanghai party chief who was responsible for this year's chaotic and controversial lockdown in the capital. In other cities where the country’s zero Covid policies have been implemented so disastrously it has led to sackings and resignations.

But Li Qiang has not only stayed in his job, but he has also been promoted to Xi’s number two. By installing his close ally in this high-profile position, President Xi has shown how he can now act unchallenged.

On paper with the naming of his Standing committee and Central Committee, and in person yesterday we have seen at this Congress the elimination of the old guard.

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao, is helped during the closing ceremony of the National Congress of China's ruling Communist Party. Credit: AP

State Media has stated that health was a factor in the removal of the former President Hu Jintao from the Congress closing ceremony on Saturday, but the way in which the incident, and he, was handled, have become a symbolic signal that Hu’s collective style of leadership is over.

Xi’s predecessor was known for his consensus-building rule.

I do not believe it was a purge as many are speculating, but still it had the effect of one, in the unedifying way he had to be forced from his seat at the moment the foreign press pack was allowed to enter the room.

The other thing we were waiting to see in today’s standing committee selection was a potential successor.

As was the tradition at Party Congress of the past, a leader would identify and promote the man they have chosen to take over.

There was no such move from Xi Jinping today. All the men on his standing committee are 60 or over and therefore unlikely to be in line for the top job when Xi finally makes way. Which is at least in five, if not 10 years time.

With absolute power Xi Jinping can forge a more aggressive socialist regime.

In his speech on Sunday he spoke of writing new chapters in developing socialism, and Xi Thought has been enshrined in the Chinese constitution.

It is clear Xi will be firmly pitched against the West in an ideological battle. He will be emboldened to follow through on his ambition to capture Taiwan and expand his sphere of influence.

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