President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, has continued his dominance after being reelected as head of the ruling Communist Party on Sunday.
Xi, who took power in 2012, was awarded a third five-year term as general secretary, discarding a party custom under which his predecessor left after 10 years.
Xi was chosen as the party's general secretary in a closed-door vote after a week-long congress in which he cemented his grasp on power.
"Confronted with new challenges and tests on the new journey, we must remain on high alert and stay sober-minded and prudent like a student sitting for an exam," Xi said after his reelection.
He and other Standing Committee members appeared for the first time as a group before reporters Sunday in the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's ceremonial legislature in central Beijing.
"The new journey is a long one filled with glories and dreams. The road-map has been drawn and the bugle has been sounded. We must forge ahead with enterprise and fortitude and endeavour to create an even brighter future," he said.
None of the Standing Committee members are women.
The Central Committee has 11 women or 5% of the total. Its 24-member Politburo has none following the departure of Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who is in her 70s.
Xi for life
The 69-year-old leader is expected by some to try to stay in power for life.
He has also promoted allies who support his vision of tighter control over society and the struggling economy, with analysts believing Xi has now established exclusive control over the party's inner circle.
“Power will be even more concentrated in the hands of Xi Jinping,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a Chinese politics expert at Hong Kong Baptist University.
The new appointees are “all loyal to Xi,” he said. "There is no counterweight or checks and balances in the system at all.”
On Saturday, Xi’s predecessor, 79-year-old Hu Jintao, abruptly left a meeting of the party Central Committee with an aide holding his arm.
That prompted questions about whether Xi was flexing his powers by expelling other influential party members. The official Xinhua News Agency later reported Hu was in poor health and needed to rest.
The party also named a seven-member Standing Committee -- its most exclusive circle of power -- dominated by Xi allies after Prime Minister Li Keqiang, an advocate of market-style reform and private enterprise, was dropped from the leadership Saturday.
That was despite Li being a year younger than the party's informal retirement age of 68.
Xi was congratulated on his reelection by Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who sent his "warmest congratulations," according to the state-run media in Pyongyang.