President Xi Jinping will head the ruling Communist Party of China for a second five-year term. The decision was taken in a closed-door vote at the Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, which also introduced the five new members.
The decision also cements Xi’s status, making him the most powerful man to lead the country in decades.
Politburo Standing Committee members were introduced in an elaborate ceremony at Beijing’s massive Great Hall of the People.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang retained his seat on the all-powerful seven-member committee, which has five new faces.
The five new members in the ruling council are Li Zhanshu, 67, vice premier Wang Yang, 62, leading Communist Party theoretician Wang Huning, 62, party organisation department head Zhao Leji, 60, and Shanghai party chief Han Zheng, 63.
The new faces replaced leaders who had reached an informal retirement age of 68. The age of the new leadership gives an indication that none of them could succeed Xi at the next party Congress in 2022.
The announcement follows the end of the week-long Communist Party National Congress, the biggest event in China’s political calendar, which is held every five years.
Xi and Li, 62 walked along with members of the new Politburo Standing Committee before a media event telecast live across the world.
Xi in a brief address after introducing the new committee said, “Over the past five years we have set out a broad agenda, some tasks have been completed while others need more work.”
“With decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. In this new context, we must get a new look and, more importantly, make new accomplishments,” he said.
Xi spoke about China entering a new era of modernisation.
Stating that the coming five years between the 19th and the 20th Party Congress is the period in which the timeframes of the two Centenary goals will converge, Xi said, “Not only we must deliver the first centenary goal, we must also embark on the journey towards the second centenary goal.”
“Peace and development are precious and should be valued. The CPC will work with other countries for shared future and the noble cause of peace and development of all humanity,” he said.
Over the past five years, China’s GDP rose from 54 trillion yuan (USD 8.2 trillion) to 80 trillion yuan, contributing more than 30 per cent of global economic growth.
Though the ruling Communist Party of China is guided by the collective leadership principle, Xi who emerged as the post powerful leader with his ideological thoughts incorporated in the party Constitution and declared earlier as “core leader” has acquired a higher status than other members of the Standing Committee and party, therefore expected to have his way on all policy matters.
Xi, who heads the party, presidency and the military has stamped his authority with massive anti-corruption campaign and the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to spread China’s influence in the world.
(With inputs from agencies)