May 27. 2024. 9:07

The Daily

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Xi Jinping secures unprecedented third term as China’s president

Xi Jinping has secured an unprecedented third term as China’s president as the country faces economic challenges and rising tensions with the United States. Mr Xi was the only candidate and he won the support of 2,952 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, with no votes against and no abstentions.

Mr Xi took the oath of office with his left hand resting on a copy of China’s constitution, which he amended in 2018 to allow for a third presidential term, and his right held in a clenched fist salute. Delegates to the NPC, China’s top legislative body, also unanimously elected Mr Xi as chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The Chinese leader was confirmed last October for a third term in the more powerful post of general secretary of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The NPC on Friday also elected Han Zheng as vice-president, making him the man who would become president if Mr Xi died or became incapacitated.

The congress is expected on Saturday to elect Li Qiang, a longstanding ally of Mr Xi, as premier with responsibility for economic policy. Ding Xuexiang, another close ally, is expected to be named executive vice-premier.

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Outgoing premier Li Keqiang this week set a target of 5 per cent GDP growth for China in 2023, almost twice the 3 per cent achieved last year but low by the country’s recent standards. But he also set a goal of creating 12 million new urban jobs, suggesting that the government believes the economy could outperform its growth target.

Shares listed in mainland China and Hong Kong added almost $4 trillion (€3.7 trillion) in value since last October as the end of zero-Covid in December fuelled optimism about an economic recovery. But tensions with the US and its allies have alarmed some international investors in recent weeks while others are disappointed that the NPC has not announced specific, major stimulus plans for the economy.

The Biden administration last week announced plans to prohibit US investment in some Chinese economic sectors, citing national security concerns. The Netherlands, which produces some of the world’s most advanced semiconductor technology, this week said it would follow the US in restricting sales to China.

Mr Xi this week took the rare step of naming the US as the leader of efforts to hamper China’s progress as an economic and technological power.

“Western countries led by the US have implemented comprehensive containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development,” he told delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body that is meeting in Beijing alongside the NPC.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken last month cancelled a planned visit to Beijing after the US shot down a Chinese balloon that flew into its airspace. Washington has warned China against supplying weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine but western officials admitted there was no evidence of any such action by Beijing.