Xi Jinping confirmed his place as China’s most powerful leader since Chairman Mao, breaking precedent to win a third term (Image: Getty)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has secured a historic third term as leader of the Communist Party, cementing his position as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.

After a week of political maneuvering in which he eliminated political rivals and further consolidated his power, Jinping secured the leadership position and introduced new Politburo members who will rule China for the next five years.

The Politburo Standing Committee is China’s equivalent of the presidential cabinet and is considered the elite of the elite within the party.

Four of the six appointees actually handpicked by Xi are new to the team, and most, if not all, are considered loyal to Xi.

Taking the stage in order of rank at a press event on Sunday, the team includes Li Kuang, a trusted junior colleague and fierce loyalist who is expected to become the party’s new premier.

He was followed by Zhao Lei, the party’s rising star, who at age 42 became China’s youngest person to become a provincial governor.

As head of the anti-corruption body, Zhao is responsible for maintaining party discipline and has reported bribery by a number of high-ranking officials over the years.

Members of the new Standing Committee took to the stage on Sunday as Xi confirmed his historic third term as leader of the Chinese Communist Party (Photo: Getty)

Former Beijing mayor Cai Qi was a surprise addition to the lineup, impressing Xi with his leadership of the Winter Olympics during the pandemic.

A close ally of Xi, Qi called for total loyalty to the leader during his time as mayor, and his inclusion is seen as a sign of how Xi values ​​and rewards those loyal to him.

The same is true of Ding Xuesian, who rose to power despite a lack of experience due to his role as Xi’s personal secretary and eventual chief of staff. One of Xi’s most trusted aides, he often accompanies him on foreign trips and is believed to have spent more time with him than anyone else in recent years.

Li Xi is another supporter of Jinping, closely linked to the family of the leader who has impressed the party with his development of the technology industry and economic reforms.

The team was joined by party stalwart and political theorist Wang Hunig, who is considered the brains of the party machinery and played an important role in the development of Chinese ideology under various leaders.

Willie Lam, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a US think tank, called the appointment “an unusually one-sided victory for one faction, which is rare in the Communist Party tradition.”

“Earlier there was an approximate balance of power, but now there will be no checks and balances,” he added.

Xi has effectively given himself a mandate to become leader for life (Photo: Getty)

After lifting limits on the number of terms a leader can serve in 2018, Xi has effectively paved the way to become leader for life.

Mr Lam says it will “exacerbate the cult of personality around Xi” and warns that the move could lead to “the party and the country risking becoming a ‘chamber of one voice’ where only one voice will be heard”.

“The Supreme Leader has almost completely abandoned the institutional reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping and largely followed by former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao,” he said.

Earlier this week, 79-year-old former president Jintao was by a mysterious convoy from the Politburo hall against his will by security during the closing ceremony of the current Congress.

In a brief speech on Sunday after his confirmation, Xi said China must remain on high alert for challenges “like a student taking a never-ending exam”.

“China’s development cannot leave the world, and the world’s development also needs China,” he said.

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Xi Jinping becomes China’s most powerful ruler since Chairman Mao