By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BEIJING (Worthy News) – China’s leader Xi Jinping was formally reappointed as the nation’s president for a third 5-year term in a move expected to worry minorities, including Christians and dissidents.
The vote for Xi in the National People’s Congress was announced to be 2,952 to 0, an unsurprising outcome for observers of the increasingly strict Communist-run country.
However, reporters were kept at a distance and couldn’t see the four ballots that each delegate deposited into boxes placed around the vast auditorium of the Great Hall of the People.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close ally, congratulated Xi on his new term and expected the further “strengthening” of ties between the countries.
The West has closely watched the relationship between the two leaders amid concerns that China will deliver weapons to Russia to use in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Tensions are also expected to rise with the United States over Taiwan, the democratically ruled island that Beijing seeks to make part of China, by force if necessary.
PRESIDENT FOR LIFE
Xi, 69, had himself named to a third five-year term as party general secretary in October, breaking with a tradition under which Chinese leaders handed over power once a decade.
A two-term limit on the figurehead presidency was deleted from the Chinese Constitution earlier, effectively making him president for life
Besides concerns among Western leaders, Xi’s extension of the presidency was not expected to improve the situation of reportedly persecuted Christians.
Under Xi, China launched an effort to “erase” all churches and last year saw an increase in the persecution of Christians in the Communist-run nation, according to a report obtained by Worthy News last month.
ChinaAid, a well-informed advocacy group supporting Christians in China, suggested that Chinese people are increasingly forced to worship Chinese President Xi.
It recorded escalating “persecutions against Christian churches and Christians in mainland China” in 2022.
Surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world, and monitored Christian leaders, as well as other believers, have faced imprisonment or, in a small number of cases, abduction, several sources say.
Many churches have also been forced to remove crosses in recent years or were even destroyed, records show, amid reported concerns among Communist officials that Christianity could further spread.
There are at least nearly 100 million Christians in China living among 1,4 billion people, according to church group estimates.
Some, including Communist officials, reportedly suggested it could be as high as 130 million.
Beijing is also concerned about Islam.
In Xinjiang province, a surveillance and internment system has been built for Muslim minorities, notably the Uighurs, with many being mistreated in camps, rights groups say.
President Xi denies wrongdoing but warned that the country should guard against “infiltration” through religion and “extremist ideology.”
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