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Why Xi Jinping’s Third Term Doesn’t Mean He’ll Rule for Life

  • China leader set to secure another five years in office
  • Range of pressures could prevent him holding power beyond 2027
While winning a third term elevates Xi’s status, there are no clues what he’ll do beyond 2027. 

While winning a third term elevates Xi’s status, there are no clues what he’ll do beyond 2027. 

Photographer: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images 

President Xi Jinping appears set to win a precedent-breaking third term in office at a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in October. But that doesn’t mean he’ll rule China for life.

The Chinese leader’s ambitions to extend his time in power became clear in 2018, when the party dismantled the constitution’s two-term limit for the presidency. That cleared the way for him to take another five years as general secretary -- the title that gives him the most power -- at the 20th Party Congress starting Oct. 16. To keep that post beyond 2027, however, he’ll need to keep securing five-year terms, under the current rules.