China's President Xi Jinping (centre) walks past delegates as he prepares to vote during the third plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 10, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

BEIJING: 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.

The appointment by China’s parliament comes after Xi locked in another five years as head of the Communist Party (CCP) and the military - the two more significant leadership positions in Chinese politics - in October.

The National People’s Congress (NPC) is also set to appoint Xi ally Li Qiang as the new premier.

And on Friday they handed Xi a third term as China’s President with a 2,952 to 0 vote by the NPC.

His coronation sets him up to become modern China’s longest-serving president, and will mean Xi will rule well into his seventies - if no challenger emerges.

Adrian Geiges, co-author of “Xi Jinping said: “He really has a vision about China, he wants to see China as the most powerful country in the world.”

“We will see a China more assertive on the global stage, insisting its narrative to be accepted,” Steve Tsang, Director of the SOAS China Institute, told AFP.

“But it is also one that will focus on domestically making it less dependent on the rest of the world, and making the Communist Party the centrepiece of governance, rather than the Chinese Government,” he said.

Xi, 69, had himself named to a third five-year term as party general secretary in October.

Xi was also unanimously named head of the Central Military Commission that commands the party’s military wing, the 2 million-member People’s Liberation Army, an appointment that has been automatic for the party leader for three decades.

Newly-elected National People's Congress Chairman Zhao Leji (left) shakes hands with Xi Jinping during the third plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing on March 10, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

In other voting, the party’s third-ranking official, Zhao Leji, was named head of the National People’s Congress. The vast majority of the body’s legislative work is headed by its Standing Committee, which meets year-round.

Zhao, 67, a holdover from the previous party Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power in China headed by Xi, won Xi’s trust as head of the party’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, pursuing an anti-graft campaign that has frozen all potential opposition to Xi.

Former Shanghai party boss and member of the last Politburo Standing Committee Han Zheng was named to the largely ceremonial post of state vice president.

Xi, Zhao and Han then took the oath of office with one hand on a copy of the Chinese Constitution. The session also swore in 14 congress vice chairpersons.

Wang Huning, a holdover from the last Politburo Standing Committee, was later named head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the NPC’s advisory body that, in coordination with the party’s United Front Department, works to build Xi’s influence and image abroad. Wang has been a top adviser to three Chinese leaders and has authored books critiquing Western politics and society.