Op-Ed: In China, Xi Jinping is getting an unprecedented third term. What should the world expect?
A second term for Xi Jinping is a given. It’s been a very long time since a Chinese leader has held two of the most powerful positions in the world.
In 1980, when Deng Xiaoping became the first Chinese leader to assume the presidency of the nation, only 24 years old, no one questioned his eligibility to be president of the world’s leading superpower.
Fast forward to 2018, when Xi Jinping became the first Chinese president to be elected for a third term in succession, just 10 months after the Communist Party’s national congress. And now, just a year away from the third anniversary of his first party victory, he has, once again, become the first Chinese leader to be given a third, and likely final, term. Once a more popular figure than he is now, Xi used his second term to transform the country and to consolidate the Communist Party’s grip on power ahead of a major transition that would end with him stepping down in the fall of 2019.
For most observers in China, Xi’s second term is the most significant of his career. If his rule is to continue on a steady upward trajectory, he must ensure the party is able to consolidate its rule without any further challenges from the street. In other words, he must maintain credibility on the world stage as China continues to grow and prosper, so that the party remains in control of China’s political, economic and social institutions.
From Beijing, the party has already managed to ensure Xi remains in power. As of May 20, the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission on Political and Legal Affairs, or CCP(ML) has been conducting regular and lengthy meetings, which have culminated with a secret meeting of the seven-member Politburo and Central Committee on May 8. The meeting was scheduled to take place a month earlier, but postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.