China’s leader Xi Jinping has begun a history-making third term after he was sworn in as president on Friday.
Xi Jinping has been handed an unprecedented third term as president, capping an ascent in which he has become China’s most powerful leader in generations.
The Chinese Parliament’s unanimous vote means Xi’s authoritarianism and assertive foreign policies are likely to continue for at least another five years.
The outcome was expected after Xi was named as China’s unchallenged leader during a meeting of the ruling Chinese Communist Party elites last October.
In a carefully choreographed ceremony in Beijing, Xi held up his right fist and placed his left hand on a red leather copy of China’s constitution.
In the oath, which was beamed live on state television across China, he vowed to “build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious and great modern socialist country”.
The two-term limit for Chinese presidents was abolished in 2018 and with the 69-year-old Xi having already surpassed the informal retirement age of 68, he could be in a position for a life-long rule.
The appointment by China’s rubber-stamp parliament comes after he was handed in October another five years as head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the military, the two more significant leadership positions in Chinese politics.
Friday’s appointment as the head of state is a ceremonial addition to Xi’s iron grip on power.
The 69-year-old has faced challenges including mass protests over his zero-Covid policy and its subsequent abandonment in which countless people died.
Xi also faces escalating tensions with the U.S. This week China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, said relations with the U.S. have left a “rational path” and warned of conflict if Washington doesn’t “hit the brake.”
Qin, who was until recently China’s ambassador to the U.S., said China would “pursue a sound and stable relationship with the U.S.”