Chinese President Xi Jinping waves at delegates during the closing ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Saturday. Photo by Mark R. Cristino/EPA-EFE
Oct. 22 (UPI) -- China's ruling Communists on Saturday approved a pair of charter amendments cementing President Xi Jinping's near-absolute grip on power as their week-long party congress concluded.
Party members meeting at the five-year gathering in Beijing unanimously approved amendments to the guiding document, including "new developments" on Xi's "thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics," under which his continued leadership of the party is deemed core to the party's mission.
The amendments set the stage for Xi to be introduced as general secretary on Sunday when the new 25-member politburo is elected, thus assuring a him a norm-breaking third term as China's president.
Communist officials said the charter changes were necessary for the party to "resolve the acute problems and challenges undermining its long-term governance, the security and stability of the country, and the wellbeing of the people," Malaysia's The Straits Times reported.
Also on Saturday, a list of 205 delegates elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was released, further reflecting Xi's consolidation of power.
Notably absent from the list were several committee members who were not known for their fervent backing of Xi, including Wang Yang, a pro-reform figure who heads the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Premier Li Keqiang, who is seeking to retire from politics.
"A central committee, politburo and standing committee dominated by Xi would mean a significant loss of checks and balances," Jamestown Foundation senior fellow Willy Lam told The Guardian. "Xi's policy of putting ideology and national security over economic development will continue for the coming five or even 10 years as he is eager to rule until the 22nd party congress in 2032 when he will be 79."
The congress's closing session began with an unusual incident involving ex-President Hu Jintao.
Video footage from the Great Hall of the People showed a frail-looking Hu being unexpectedly escorted from the stage by ushers after appearing disoriented. The former president was reluctant to leave during the incident.