Thursday February 27, 2020

March 14, 2013

Xi Jinping was officially named president of China by China’s leadership. This was the final step in Xi Jinping’s rise in the once-a-decade power transition. President Xi Jinping now holds top positions as the head of state, head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and head of the military, the three key pillars of power in China.

Xi Jinping is taking over the presidency from Hu Jintao. During the Party Congress in November, he replaced Hu Jintao as chairman of the CCP and its central military commission. Based on past precedence and tradition, Xi Jinping is expected to hold the post of president for a ten-year period, to coincide with his two five-year terms as head of the Communist Party.

Xi was named president during the National People’s Congress, held annually. The National People’s Congress (NPC) is China’s legislative body. With 3,000 delegates it is considered the world’s largest parliament. The NPC has the ability to amend the constitution, enact laws, and elect officials. While votes were held for president and the other positions being elected, these votes, and the NPC more generally, perform a largely ceremonial function. In reality, the decision on who to elect falls with the CCP.

The post of president was not the only position filled during the National People’s Congress. As expected, Li Keqiang is likely to be named Premier Wen Jiabao’s successor on Friday. The new vice president was more of a surprise. Li Yanchao, who, while on the Politburo, is not a member of the Standing Committee, was named vice president. While this is a largely symbolic position, the choice of Li Yanchao does reflect on President Xi. This decision shows that Xi Jinping had the clout and ability to get his choice for VP named over propaganda minister Liu Yunshan, the preferred choice of influential former president Jiang Zemin. It also potentially indicates that Xi might consider policies in line with Li’s previously expressed reform goals.

With China’s new leadership more formally taking shape through the National People’s Congress, China and the rest of the world are eagerly wondering, “What now?” Since being named chairman of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping has been working to develop a public image as “man of the people,” has pushed for austerity measures among party officials, and has spoken out against corruption. How closely this image and his rhetoric will match his longer-term policy changes and goals for China are still unclear. What Xi Jinping does as China’s leader is increasingly important, as China faces rising inequality, a more vocal population, and disputes with its neighbors.

For more information about Xi Jinping and the NPC, see the following news articles:

BBC– “Xi Jinping named president of China

Bloomberg Businessweek– “Xi Jinping Officially China’s New President. Now What?

Reuters– “China’s Xi flexes muscle, chooses reformist VP

The Washington Post– “China’s Xi Jinping charts a new PR course

The Wall Street Journal-Cheng Li: High Expectations for China’s National People’s Congress

Huffington Post– “China’s National People’s Congress: Photos Reveal Yearly Legislative Session’s Enormity

For Chinese language news on Xi Jinping and the NPC, see the articles below:

Xinhua(新华网)– “习近平当选国家主席、国家军委主席

Voice of America (美国之音)– “习近平成为国家主席 遇一票反对三票弃权

BBC (BBC中文网)– “日媒关注习近平李源潮当选正副主席

China News Service (中国新闻网)– “全国人大今日决定总理人选 选举“两高”负责人

Compiled and edited by Ariane Rosen