Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been confirmed as secretary-general for a third five-year term. At its first plenary session on Sunday, the new Central Committee of the Communist Party voted as expected to continue the 69-year-old's rule. He is thus disregarding previously respected age and term limits.
At the end of its week-long session the day before, the party congress, which only takes place every five years, anchored Xi Jinping's ideology and his permanent leadership role even more deeply in the party constitution and demanded unconditional loyalty.
Xi Jinping then introduced his new leadership team with loyal followers. In the powerful new Politburo Standing Committee, the Shanghai Party leader Li Qiang surprisingly took the second place on the podium. The selection of the 63-year-old indicates that Xi Jinping's close confidante is set to become the new prime minister in March.
The party leader of the eastern Chinese port metropolis had been heavily criticized for the chaotic course of the two-month corona lockdown, which cast doubt on his appointment. He moves up into the innermost circle of power.
The previous head of government, Li Keqiang, is retiring prematurely and is no longer a member of the Central Committee, although he is only 67 years old. He will step down as premier at the annual session of the People's Congress in March.
Incident around China's ex-party leader Hu Jintao explained
The state media explained a much-noticed incident involving the former Chinese head of state and party leader Hu Jintao at the end of the party conference in Beijing with the 79-year-old being unwell.
The incident, in which Hu Jintao was led off the podium by two assistants, apparently against his will, from his seat next to State and Party leader Xi Jinping, had sparked much speculation.
Hu Jintao insisted on attending the session even though he had just "taken time to recover," the official Xinhua news agency wrote, without mentioning a specific illness. "When he was not feeling well during the session, due to his health, his staff took him to a room near the meeting to rest. He is much better now."
The evening news also featured prominently images of Hu Jintao attending the session. The mention speaks against possible political backgrounds, which had promptly been speculated about. Hu Jintao is not necessarily a supporter of Xi Jinping. The frail-looking ex-party leader also seemed visibly irritated, at one point reaching for papers from Xi Jinping.
The former president handed over the post of secretary-general to Xi Jinping in 2012 after two terms. Hu Jintao represents the old "collective" leadership model with representatives from different factions and age and term limits, which 69-year-old Xi Jinping wants to overturn with his third term. He belongs to the Communist Youth League camp in the party, which was weakened by Xi Jinping.