Explained: Xi Jinping's 3rd Term As Chinese President And How He Eyes Bigger Global Role After Saudi-Iran Deal

Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to build the Chinese military into a 'Great Wall of Steel' to protect China's sovereignty amidst growing tensions with the United States and some neighbouring countries.

Chinese President XI Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping has eyes on an even bigger role of China in global affairs after rubber-stamp parliament handed him a third term last week.

Xi has emerged as the only leader after Mao Zedong who has started a third term as the President of China. Already considered by some to be the strongest leader of modern China, he is now set to be the Chinese ruler for life. 

Xi simultaneously holds three top positions in China that cement his hold over the country. Besides him being the President of China, Xi is also the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) —which governs over 2-million strong Chinese military— and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that runs China with an iron fist.

The CPC practically runs the country and even its businesses as party membership is required to rise in Chinese politics and society. 

The BBC notes, "While there is a parliament, the National People's Congress, it merely rubberstamps the decisions taken by the party leadership...Around 7% of the population are members of the party - loyal membership is essential for anyone who wants to succeed in China, whether in politics, business or even entertainment. That includes people like billionaires such as Alibaba's Jack Ma or Huawei's Ren Zhengfei, and even celebrities like actress Fan Bingbing."

There is no dissent, free speech, or free press in China, and CCP-run China has grave human rights issues in regions populated by ethnic minorities, such as Tibet and Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of systematically eroding native culture and replacing it with Han Chinese culture. 

The Saudi-Iran deal brokered by China

The traditional Middle Eastern rivals of Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to revive diplomatic relations last week after China-brokered Talks. 

The development has been termed as a diplomatic coup and is seen as a mark of China's growing influence in world influence — that too in the Middle East which is the traditional turf of the United States which China is working hard to topple as the world's foremost economic and military power. 

The Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are traditional rivals in the region who are also engaged in proxy conflict in the region. They severed ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran following the Saudi execution of the revered Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, according to The Guardian.

As announced by China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran on last Friday, have reached a deal that includes the agreement to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies and missions within two months, after talks in Beijing from March 6 to 10 ending seven year-long differences.

The deal was regarded as a major achievement for China in expanding its global outreach and countering the US influence, especially in the Middle East.

Xi eyes global role, stronger military

After the Iran-Saudi deal, Xi on Monday vowed to build the military into a "Great Wall of steel" to protect the country's sovereignty and sought a bigger role for Beijing in global affairs.

Speaking for the first time in his precedent-breaking third term as head of state, Xi called on the nation to uphold the leadership of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by him. He also vowed to build the military into a "Great Wall of Steel" to protect China's sovereignty, amidst growing tensions with the United States and some neighbouring countries.

Speaking at the conclusion of the annual session of the Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), Xi stressed upholding the leadership of the CPC and the centralised, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the main policy body of the party.

In his speech at the NPC closing ceremony attended by about 3,000 legislators, Xi said China will play an active part in the reform and development of the global governance system to advance the implementation of his initiatives the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI) which aims to expand Beijing’s diplomatic role in the world.

In his speech on Monday, Xi also called for efforts to advance the modernisation of national defence and armed forces on all fronts, and build the people's armed forces into a "Great Wall of steel" that is capable of effectively safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests.

"Security is the bedrock of development, while stability is a prerequisite for prosperity," Xi was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Last week, Xi said, "Western countries, led by the United States, have implemented all-round containment and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to the country’s development."

Xi while speaking in the Parliament last Monday said that the external environment for the country’s development changed rapidly, and there was a significant rise in uncertainty and unpredictable factors. He said in the future “the risks and challenges we face will only increase and become more severe”, apparently referring to the crackdown by the US and EU on China’s high-tech firms like Huawei and TikTok.


A key agenda for the legislative session is to provide a strategy to cut reliance on the US. As part of that plan, the central government proposed to raise R&D spending by 2 per cent in 2023 to 328 billion yuan ($47 billion).

Also on March 5, China hiked its defence budget for the 8th consecutive year with a 7.2 per cent increase to USD $billion.

In his speech on Monday, Xi underscored the need to pursue a holistic approach to national security, improve the national security system, strengthen China's capacity for safeguarding national security, enhance public safety governance, improve the social governance system, and safeguard China's new development pattern with a new security architecture.


On Taiwan, which China claims is part of it, Xi said China is actively promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, resolutely opposing external interference and "Taiwan independence" separatist activities, and firmly advancing the process of national reunification.

He also promised to continue the one-country two system formula to develop Hong Kong despite the crackdown to subdue pro-independence forces in the former British colony under China’s new security law.

Stressing that China will make concrete efforts to advance high-standard opening up, Xi said the country will not only leverage global markets and resources for its own development but also promote the development of the whole world.


He also called for building China into a great modern socialist country and advancing national rejuvenation.

From this day forward to the mid-21st century, the central task of the entire CPC, and all Chinese people will be to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts, Xi said.

"The relay baton of building a great modern socialist country and advancing national rejuvenation has been historically passed on to our generation," he said.

(With PTI inputs)