In a sweeping government reshuffle as he starts a third five-term after being unanimously elected to helm the affairs as head of the state, China President Xi Jinping has installed a slate of loyalists for plum posts to consolidates power — a bid to take well-calibrated measure of continuity in core policymaking positions as the world’s second-largest economy faces stiff challenges at home and abroad.
The election of Xi, who bagged votes of nearly 3000 members, has put him on track to stay in power for life at a time of severe economic challenges and rising tensions with the US and others. His election became possible only after changes in the Constitution that deleted the two-term limit in 2018.
Xi Jinping ‘monopoly’
For a leader like Xi, who has cut the size of his potential rivals and appointed loyalists at top ranks of the ruling Communist Party since taking power in 2012, endorsing his candidature for a precedent-breaking third term president by National People’s Congress was a foregone conclusion.
Xi was unanimously named commander of the 2 People’s Liberation Army, which takes its orders from the party rather than the country. His historic new term and appointments of loyalists for the key posts underscores Xi’s monopoly on Chinese political landscape.
Control over government organs?
The Congress may pass measures to intensify party control over government organs so as to function as part of Xi’s campaign of centralizing power under his stewardship. This power dynamics will, as experts feel, give unbridled command to the China President to run his hyper-nationalistic agenda of building the country into the top military, economic and political rival to the US, a bid to dominate geopolitics and democratic world order.
Xi’s non-cooperative stand
The world has witnessed China’s non-cooperation on the origin of Covid pandemic despite several requests made by the World Health Organisation. People around the globe have borne the brunt of bitter relations between US and China owing to Xi’s non-cooperative stand on the origin of Coronavirus, which caused a situation that squandered historic opportunities for cooperation to tackle a common threat.
Under Xi, the relationship between China and Russia has touched new heights. China did not criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rather it endorsed Moscow’s claim that the US and NATO were to blame for the escalating war that distorted the global economy sending ripple effects across the countries.
A team of loyalists
Li Qiang: The Chinese President nominated Li Qiang to become premier during the annual meeting of China’s rubber-stamp parliament. Li, who has been a firm Xi loyalist, has replaced Li Keqiang, who served the country for two five-year terms with his power being steadily declined as Xi centralized all authority to himself. People say that Li is a practical-minded and an effective bureaucratic operator, reported Reuters.
Qin Gang: Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has been elevated to the rank of State Councillor, which will put him in line for his likely appointment for the post of China’s Special Representative for India-China boundary talks, a high-level mechanism to discuss the boundary issue and improvement of ties between the two countries. The National People’s Congress, and the Chinese Parliament endorsed Qin Gang’s appointment as Foreign Minister and elevated him to the status of State Councillor, a high-ranking position of the Chinese government that may catapult him to the post of China’s Special Representative for India-China boundary talks, reported PTI.
Yi Gang: China reappointed Yi Gang as head of the central bank, who will be the governor of the People’s Bank of China, but he will play no role in making monetary policy, unlike his counterparts in other countries, reported AP.
Liu Kun: Prioritizing continuity as economic challenges, China has announced that Liu Kun, 66, has been reappointed as the Finance Minister of the country. The Chinese government has pegged an economic growth target of around 5 percent for 2023, up from 3 percent last year, reported Reuters.
Li Shangfu: General Li Shangfu, an official sanctioned by the United States, has become China’s Defence Minister and state councillor — a move that could trigger a further fissure between the two superpowers’ strained relationship.
Shen Yiqin: China appointed Shen Yiqin, 63，as the highest-ranking woman in the country. Observers got surprised when the Communist Party broke with tradition and did not appoint any woman to its 24-member Politburo in October, reported Reuters.