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Analysis: With no successor in sight, Xi Jinping holds more power than ever

March 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.2%. 2 min read.

In March 2020, the annual meeting of China's national legislature in Beijing was delayed for the first time in decades, as Chinese President Xi Jinping attempted to gain control over what would fast become a global pandemic.

One year on, the high-profile event is due to start on Friday, in line with pre-pandemic traditions, in an atmosphere of triumph for the Chinese Communist Party and Xi, who has emerged from the crisis more powerful than ever.

Xi's success in handling the pandemic has demonstrated to the Party and any remaining critics that "even the pandemic couldn't affect him," said Steven Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute.

Now Xi is working to cement his place in the pantheon of Chinese leaders ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party's founding in July, experts said, looking to place himself alongside the founder of the People's Republic of China -- Mao Zedong.

Xi's initial 10-year term as general secretary of the Party ends in November 2022.

This long-term plan could indicate the length of time Xi sees himself staying in power, said Bill Bishop, China politics expert and author of the Sinocism newsletter.

Last November, the Chinese Communist Party announced it had reached its goal of eliminating "absolute poverty" in China, fulfilling a promise made by Xi in a speech in 2015.

But Bishop said the campaign would also reinforce Xi's place in the history of the Communist Party, dividing the past 70 years of Party-rule into three eras -- Mao's, Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's and now Xi's.

McGregor said with a third term for Xi now likely, the question was moving to whether or not he would appoint a possible successor at the 20th Party Congress in November 2022, to potentially take over in 2027.

If there is another congress without a potential successor to Xi, McGregor said it could indicate plans for the Chinese leader to serve for a fourth term or longer.

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