Xi Jinping Makes History As He Becomes China’s President For The Third Time
Xi Jinping secured a historic third term as China’s leader on Sunday and filled his inner circle with close allies, achieving after a decade in power complete dominance over the ruling Communist Party.
The party’s Central Committee elected Xi as its general secretary for another five-year term, bringing the country back towards one-man rule after decades of power-sharing among its elite.
“I wish to thank the whole party sincerely for the trust you have placed in us,” Xi told journalists at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People after the closed-door, rubber-stamp vote was announced.
Xi, 69, was also reappointed head of China’s Central Military Commission, keeping him in charge of the People’s Liberation Army.
He is now all but certain to sail through to a third term as the country’s president, due to be formally announced during the government’s annual legislative sessions in March.
Sunday’s developments cement him as the most powerful leader since Communist Party founder Mao Zedong.
In a wide-ranging acceptance speech on Sunday, Xi made signature remarks celebrating China’s rise as a global power and its success under his rule.
“The world needs China,” Xi said.
“After more than 40 years of unflagging efforts towards reform and opening up, we have created two miracles — rapid economic development and long-term social stability.”
Six of Xi’s proteges and allies were also unveiled on Sunday alongside him as members of the Politburo Standing Committee — the party’s apex of power that rules the country.
Li Qiang — a former chief of staff for Xi who oversaw a gruelling two-month Covid lockdown in Shanghai this year — was named as number two in the Standing Committee.
This means he is likely to take over as premier from Li Keqiang, a former Xi rival who will retire next year.
Close aide Ding Xuexiang and Guangdong party chief Li Xi, a longtime confidante of the president, were among other allies named in the Standing Committee.
“The new Politburo Standing Committee confirms decisively that Xi has consolidated power at the top of the Communist Party to an extent unseen since the Mao era,” said Neil Thomas, a senior China analyst at Eurasia Group.
“Xi has installed allies onto all seven seats of the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, allowing him to dominate the political system for the foreseeable future.”
Alfred Wu Muluan, a Chinese politics expert at the National University of Singapore, said: “It is all Xi’s people, signalling he wants to rule even beyond a third term.”
Xi abolished the presidential two-term limit in 2018, paving the way for him to govern indefinitely.
Xi was swiftly congratulated on Sunday by some of China’s allies, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The United States offered no immediate response.
Sunday’s announcements came after a week-long Congress of 2,300 hand-picked party delegates during which they endorsed Xi’s “core position” in the leadership and approved a sweeping reshuffle that saw Li and other former Xi rivals relegated.
On Saturday the delegates elected the Central Committee of around 200 senior party officials, who on Sunday chose the 24-person Politburo and the Standing Committee.
The Politburo will have no women members for the first time in 25 years.
Analysts had closely watched for whether the party charter would be amended during the Congress to enshrine “Xi Jinping Thought” as a guiding philosophy, a move that would put Xi on a par with Mao.
That did not take place, though a resolution did call the creed “the Marxism of contemporary China and of the 21st Century”, adding that it “embodies the best Chinese culture and ethos of this era”.
Hu led away
In the most dramatic moment of the Congress, Hu Jintao — Xi’s predecessor as party leader and the president — was forcibly led out of Saturday’s closing ceremony.
The frail-looking 79-year-old was reluctant to leave the front row, where he was sitting next to Xi.
State media reported that Hu had been removed because he was feeling unwell, and that he had since recovered.
But the extraordinary events, with Xi seemingly unfazed as Hu was lifted from his chair and escorted out, fuelled frenzied speculation among observers and analysts as to whether there were political factors at play.
Xi has promoted a narrative in his first decade of power that he has rectified huge problems that beset China and the Communist Party during the reigns of Hu and his predecessors.
These include graft within the party and unequal distribution of wealth.
Adding to the intrigue, China’s censors scrubbed references to Hu from the internet after he was removed from Congress.
One of Hu’s proteges, Hu Chunhua, had been tipped by some to be named to the Standing Committee on Sunday. But Xi sidelined him.
Taliban Governor Of Afghan Province Killed In Suicide Attack In His Office
The Taliban governor of Afghanistan’s Balkh province, known for fighting against Islamic State jihadists, was killed in a suicide attack at his office on Thursday, officials said.
The killing, a day after he met top government officials visiting from Kabul, makes Mohammad Dawood Muzammil one of the highest-ranking figures slain since the Taliban stormed back to power in 2021.
Violence across Afghanistan has dramatically dropped since the Taliban seized control, but the security situation has again deteriorated with IS claiming several deadly attacks.
“Two people, including Mohammad Dawood Muzammil, the governor of Balkh, have been killed in an explosion this morning,” local police spokesman Asif Waziri told AFP, adding that the blast happened on the second floor of his office, in the provincial capital Mazar-i-Sharif.
“It was a suicide attack. We don’t have information as to how the suicide bomber reached the office of the governor,” he said, adding that two people were also wounded.
Authorities deployed extra security at the governorate, who forbade journalists from taking photos, an AFP correspondent reported from near the site of the blast.
Muzammil was “martyred in an explosion by the enemies of Islam”, tweeted government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Muzammil was initially appointed governor of the eastern province of Nangarhar, where he led the fight against IS jihadists, before being moved to Balkh last year.
On Wednesday, he met two deputy prime ministers and other senior officials visiting Balkh to review a major irrigation project in northern Afghanistan, according to a government statement.
IS has emerged as the biggest security challenge to the Taliban government since last year, carrying out attacks against Afghan civilians as well as foreigners and foreign interests.
Several attacks have rocked Balkh, including in Mazar-i-Sharif last year, some claimed by IS.
In January, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people when he blew himself up near the foreign ministry in Kabul, in an attack claimed by IS.
The Taliban and IS share an austere Sunni Islamist ideology, but the latter are fighting to establish a global “caliphate” instead of the Taliban’s more inward-looking goal of ruling an independent Afghanistan.
At least five Chinese nationals were wounded in December when gunmen stormed a hotel popular with businesspeople in Kabul.
That raid was claimed by IS, as was an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul in December that Islamabad denounced as an “assassination attempt” against its ambassador.
Two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September in another attack claimed by IS.
Turkish Rescuers Pull Three Survivors From Rubble 13 Days After Earthquake
Turkish rescuers on Saturday pulled three people, including a child, alive from the rubble 13 days after a massive quake claimed tens of thousands of lives, but one later died, a Turkey media platform reported.
The channel did not provide any further details.
A journalist for Turkish television channel NTV later reported that one of those found had died after being taken to hospital.
NTV broadcast images of rescuers placing the rescued people onto stretchers after they had spent 296 hours trapped in the rubble.
A 7.8-magnitude tremor on February 6 rocked southeastern Turkey and Syria, killing more than 43,000 people and leaving millions without proper shelter.
Teams have been finding survivors all week despite them being stuck for so long under the rubble in freezing weather, but their numbers have dropped to just a handful in the past few days.
Turkish rescuers on Friday pulled a 45-year-old man from rubble, several hours after others discovered three people including a 14-year-old boy alive under debris.
Ghana Footballer Christian Atsu Found Dead In Turkey Earthquake Rubble
The body of former Ghana international Christian Atsu has been found after a devastating earthquake in Turkey, local media reported Saturday, quoting his manager.
Atsu, 31, was caught up in a 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked Turkey and Syria on February 6, killing more than 43,000 people in both countries.
There were initial reports the former Chelsea and Newcastle player had been rescued a day after the quake, but these turned out to be false.
His manager in Turkey, Murat Uzunmehmet, told DHA news agency on Saturday that his body had been found under the rubble in the Turkish southern province of Hatay.
“We have reached his lifeless body. His belongings are still being removed. His phone was also found,” Uzunmehmet told DHA.
Ghana’s ministry of foreign affairs said it had “received the unfortunate news”.
“The elder brother and twin sister of Christian Atsu and an officer of the (Ghanaian) embassy were present at the site when the body was recovered,” the ministry said in a statement.
Ghana said it was working with the Turkish government to organise the transport of the body back to Atsu’s home country for burial.
Midfielder Atsu spent four seasons at Chelsea before a permanent transfer to Newcastle in 2017. He signed last September for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor.
Chelsea issued a statement declaring: “It is with enormous sadness that Chelsea Football Club receives the news that Christian Atsu is confirmed as one of the many victims of the dreadful earthquake in Turkey and Syria.”
Newcastle also paid hommage to “a talented player and a special person”.
The club added: “He will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters.
“Initially joining on loan, he played a key role in the Magpies squad that secured the Championship title in 2017 before making a permanent move to help us establish our place back in the Premier League.”
Search and rescue workers found Atsu’s body where he was staying at Ronesans Residence, a block of high-rise luxury flats that toppled over in Antakya city in Hatay.
Turkish police arrested the building’s contractor at Istanbul airport last week as he appeared to be heading to Montenegro, according to state news agency Anadolu.