Chinese parliament unanimously backs Xi as president for third term

Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds during a session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Friday, March 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Xi Jinping, on Friday, secured a precedent-breaking third term as the Chinese president, by the unanimous votes of nearly 3,000 members of the country’s parliament, National People’s Congress (NPC) – making him the second largest world economy’s most dominant leader in generations.

The vote for Xi was 2,952 to zero by NPC, as reported by Xinhua, in an election in which there was no other candidate.

In the Chinese system of governance, presidency is largely ceremonial. Xi's main position of power was extended last October when he was reconfirmed for five more years as general secretary of the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which dominates NPC. Therewith, confirmation of his third term as president had been widely expected. 

Xi, was also unanimously named commander of the two million-member People’s Liberation Army on Friday.

Following his re-election – Xi made a public pledge of allegiance to the Chinese constitution.

"I pledge my allegiance to the Constitution of the PRC to safeguard the Constitution's authority, and fulfill my legal obligations, be loyal to the country and the people, be committed and honest in my duty, accept the people's supervision, and work for a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful," he said.

Between 1982 and 2018, Chinese constitution stipulated that a president could not serve more than two consecutive terms. The term limits were abolished in 2018, subsequently aligning the presidency with CCP general secretary, which does not have term limits, but without changing the president's powers. 

In other votings on Friday, Han Zheng was chosen as the new vice president while Zhao Leji was named the new parliament chair. 

The naming of a new premier and various ministers in the coming days is highly anticipated.

New appointees are mostly expected to be Xi loyalists including Li Qiang, who is tipped to serve as the premier, which as China’s second highest post, puts him in charge of the economy.