BEIJING: China’s five-yearly Communist Party Congress wrapped up on Saturday (Oct 22) with delegates endorsing President Xi Jinping’s “core position” in the country’s leadership, all but assuring he will be handed an unprecedented third term in power.
At the end of the week-long gathering in Beijing, China’s ruling party approved a sweeping reshuffle that saw a number of top officials – including Premier Li Keqiang – step down, allowing Xi to appoint new allies.
The largely rubber-stamp meeting among 2,300 party delegates was meticulously choreographed, with Xi determined to avoid any surprises as he enshrined his leadership for the next five years.
But in an unexpected move that punctured the proceedings at the Great Hall of the People, former leader Hu Jintao was led out of the closing ceremony. No official explanation was given.
Delegates then approved a call obliging all party members to “uphold Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the party as a whole”, according to a unanimously passed resolution on changes to the party charter.
Xi is now all but certain to be unveiled as general secretary on Sunday, shortly after the first meeting of the new Central Committee.
This will allow Xi to sail through to a third term as China’s president, due to be announced during the government’s annual legislative sessions in March.
NEW CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
A new Central Committee of around 200 senior party officials was elected shortly before the closing ceremony.
A list of officials of the newly elected group revealed that four out of seven members of the Party’s Standing Committee – the apex of power – would retire.
Among them was current Premier Li Keqiang, as well as fellow Politburo Standing Committee members Wang Yang – who was touted as a possible successor to Li – Han Zheng, and Li Zhanshu.
Han and Li Zhanshu were widely expected to step down, having surpassed the informal age limit of 68 for Politburo-level officials – a requirement not extended to 69-year-old Xi.
Wang and Li Keqiang, both 67, could still have continued in the Standing Committee or 25-member Politburo for another five-year term.
Other high-profile Communist Party top brass absent from the new Central Committee include high-ranking diplomat Yang Jiechi and economic tsar Liu He.