Xi Jinping was handed a third term as Chinese president on Friday, capping a rise that has seen him become the country’s most powerful leader in generations.
His appointment by China’s rubber-stamp parliament comes after Xi locked in another five years as head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October.
Since then, the 69-year-old has weathered widespread protests over his zero-Covid policy and the deaths of countless people after its abandonment.
But those issues have been avoided at this week’s National People’s Congress (NPC), a carefully choreographed event that is also set to appoint Xi ally Li Qiang as the new premier.
On Friday, delegates handed Xi a third term as president and re-appointed him head of the country’s Central Military Commission in a unanimous vote.
Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, a cavernous state building on the edge of Tiananmen Square, was adorned with crimson carpets and banners for the landmark vote, with a military band providing background music.
A digital monitor on the edge of the stage proclaimed the final tally — all 2,952 votes had been cast in favour of giving Xi another term in office.
The announcement was followed by delegates’ fervent declarations of allegiance to the Chinese constitution, in a demonstration of loyalty and unanimity.
Xi held up his right fist and placed his left hand on a red, leather-bound copy of China’s constitution.
In an oath beamed live on state television, he vowed to “build a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilised, harmonious and great modern socialist country.”
China’s close ally Russia swiftly offered Xi its “sincere congratulations” on his re-election.
“Russia highly values your personal contribution toward the strengthening of ties… and strategic cooperation between our nations,” President Vladimir Putin said in a letter to his “dear friend” Xi.
Punch / Titilayo Kupoliyi Subscribe to our Telegram and YouTube Channels also join our Whatsapp Update Group