President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, increased his dominance Sunday when he was named to another term as head of the ruling Communist Party in a break with tradition and promoted allies who support his vision of tighter control over society and the struggling economy.
Xi, who took power in 2012, was awarded a third five-year term as general secretary, discarding a custom under which his predecessor left after 10 years. The 69-year-old leader is expected by some to try to stay in power for life.
The party also named a seven-member Standing Committee, its inner circle of power, dominated by Xi allies after Premier Li Keqiang, the No. 2 leader and an advocate of market-style reform and private enterprise, was dropped from the leadership Saturday. That was despite Li being a year younger than the party’s informal retirement age of 68.
“Power will be even more concentrated in the hands of Xi Jinping,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a Chinese politics expert at Hong Kong Baptist University. The new appointees are “all loyal to Xi,” he said. “There is no counterweight or checks and balances in the system at all.”