China’s ruthless leader Xi Jinping became “emperor for life” while cementing absolute power with an unprecedented third term

XI Jinping made history in China after cementing absolute power with an unprecedented third term.

The Chinese president broke decades of precedent of limited political terms and re-established his seat in government.

Xi Jinping opens the 20th Party Congress


Xi Jinping opens the 20th Party CongressPhoto credit: Rex
Hu Jintao was carried away by Xi's heavyweights


Hu Jintao was carried away by Xi’s heavyweightsPhoto credit: AFP
Senior police officer Sun Lijun has been sentenced to death for corruption and is rumored to have wiretapped Xi


Senior police officer Sun Lijun has been sentenced to death for corruption and is rumored to have wiretapped XiCredit: AP
Xi has a firm grip on China's security services


Xi has a firm grip on China’s security servicesPhoto credit: Getty

He has promoted his like-minded political allies to help cement his grip on society and carry out his grand plans.

Xi is celebrating a decade in office while also receiving another five-year term as secretary-general – effectively making himself an “emperor for life.”

The leading political operator confirmed his fate at the end of the week-long XX. Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

He began paving the way for his extraordinary political game in 2018 when he successfully removed the two-term limit from the constitution.

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Unlike his predecessor, Hu Jintao, the 69-year-old refuses to step down after 10 years and continues to play his governing role.

Xi appeared to march the former presidential frog out of the Beijing meeting, with guards appearing to heave him from his seat.

The tumultuous exit led to claims that the ruler had asserted his authority by expelling other officials in the dramatic display.

The unassailable leader – who famously banished Winnie the Pooh – is supported by a massive security apparatus and the threat of death sentences for his opponents.

He is considered the undisputed “core leader” of the world’s most populous nation.

Xi has ousted his number two premier, Li Keqiang, in favor of yes-man Li Qiang and a seven-member Standing Committee.

China’s one-party system paints an outward image of unity, but behind the scenes there are inevitable rumors of discontent and even wiretapping of Xi.

In this shadow world, Xi has leveraged his ruthlessness and political talent to become the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao, whose brutal rule resulted in the deaths of millions.

In the run-up to the 20th session of the Chinese Party Congress, rumors circulated that a senior police official who was sentenced to death for corruption had actually wiretapped Xi.

It was a rare moment that shed a light on what’s going on in the murky world of Chinese politics.

Since coming to power, Xi has ousted 200 such high-ranking but poorly paid officials, none of whom support the Chinese president, says China expert Steve Tsang.

“He’s ruthless, very politically astute and takes no prisoners,” Professor Tsang of SOAS University of London told The Sun Online.

Xi is known in China as the “Princeling,” the son of a certain Xi Zhongxun, a senior Communist Party veteran who ran afoul of the regime and was imprisoned.

Young Xi was expelled from his elite school and eventually exiled to work in a remote and desperately poor part of the country.

But despite the humiliation, Xi remained a true supporter of the party, which he joined in 1974 after several attempts.

He then set about making his way to the top, becoming provincial party leader before being named heir apparent in 2007.

Tsang says he presented himself as a “candidate for unity” during his rise to power and kept his head down until shortly before he took office in 2012.

But then mysteriously disappeared for 10 days, even canceling a meeting with then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Details remain a mystery, but Tsang believes he is using these days to conduct a behind-the-scenes operation to cement his authority.

Anyone on a higher level is vulnerable, they can choose who they want

Professor Steve Tsang

“Basically, what he used that disappearance for was to secure conditions for his own succession, so he could do whatever he wanted when he took over,” he said.

“From the very beginning, when he became leader of the Communist Party, he was able to make changes.”

His first step was to launch an anti-corruption campaign targeting senior Chinese officials known as Tigers, who line their pockets to the widespread disgust of ordinary people.

For wily operator Xi, the death sentences that often accompany convictions have had the effect of taking out officials who could potentially take action against him – and winning over public opinion.

While most death sentences are suspended for two years, enough are carried out to have the desired effect and send a message to potential enemies.

“Everyone thought ‘ok, there’s a new boss, after six months everything will be back to normal’, without realizing that the anti-corruption campaign was not an anti-corruption campaign.

“It was something he wanted to use for the rest of his time in power and he has been accustomed to eliminating his opponents and enemies within the party.


“Over 200 tigers have been shot down in the last ten years – none of these tigers were Xi Jinping’s prodigies.

“Everyone at a higher level is vulnerable, they can choose who they want.”

This threat is the “most powerful tool he has built to eliminate his opposition”.

Ming Xia of New York City University said, “Xi has been brutal towards his potential competitors and their subordinates within the party and the state.

“He has boasted about the more than 4 million party members and cadres who have been investigated and punished under his two terms.

“Based on what Xi has done and how we can anticipate further economic and social crises, we have enough reason to fear that Xi may turn out to be Mao Zedong-like.”

Professor Ming says Xi’s “heart was darkened” by the “brutal political struggles and violence” of his father’s earlier ouster.

“His strong will for power has driven him to disguise, to humble himself, to wait patiently for opportunities, to secure every opportunity for promotion and to ally with key figures, and then dump or eliminate them upon his exploitation.”

Ahead of the party congress, a rare protest erupted in central Beijing, in which a protester unfurled a banner on a highway bridge calling Xi a “thief and dictator.”

Xi’s insistence on continuing his “zero Covid” policy with its strict lockdowns has also fueled dissatisfaction.

But most pundits believe there is an element of opposition to Xi, but anyone hoping to unseat him will be out of work.

“Xi is paranoid about maintaining his personal security and of course his power and status as ‘leader for life,'” said Will Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“There could be more arrests, particularly of police, state security or military personnel suspected by Xi of orchestrating coups or other types of malicious actions against the supreme leader.”

With his hands on all levers of power, Xi’s position is unassailable for the time being, says Tsang.

“He’s made himself the core leader of China and the Communist Party, so anyone who’s against anything they do is against the Party.

“He makes sure he has the Party, the military, the secret service and the public security service under control.

“He said the party runs everything – and he runs the party. He has made himself the personification of the Communist Party.” China’s ruthless leader Xi Jinping became “emperor for life” while cementing absolute power with an unprecedented third term


DevanCole is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DevanCole joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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