Chinese President Xi Jinping was elected a delegate to the Communist Party’s national congress on Friday, a procedural move that is likely to lead to him securing an unprecedented third term as the party’s boss. Xi’s election as a congress delegate was confirmed by a unanimous vote at the party’s congress in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, state news agency Xinhua reported. “Xi was nominated by the Communist Party Central Committee as a candidate for delegate to the 20th national congress, scheduled to be held in the second half of 2022,” Xinhua reported. “The announcement of Xi’s unanimous election won a burst of sustained and warm applause at the regional congress on Friday morning.” At the congress, a meeting held every five years for the party elite, the delegates will vote on the Central Committee, the party’s top policymaking body. The 200 or so members of the committee will then decide on who will sit on the Politburo, and its Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power of the Communist Party. In reporting Xi’s qualification as a congress delegate, Xinhua said the Guangxi party members believed his election “reflects the common aspiration and strong desire of hundreds of millions of people to follow the leaders of the great rejuvenation and create a better future”. Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, said Xi’s election as a congress delegate was a symbolic step in him securing a third term as the party’s general secretary. Chinese security official orders risks crackdown ahead of 20th party congress “This may not mean that his election as the general secretary is 100 per cent certain, but it is a very firm step,” he said. In 2012, Hu Jintao was also elected a delegate to the 18th national congress, at which he passed the baton to Xi. Two new provincial party secretaries were also announced on Friday. According to Xinhua, Wang Xiaohui, 60, executive vice-director of the Communist Party’s propaganda department, took over from Peng Qinghua as the new party boss of Sichuan province in the country’s southwest. Separately, Ni Yuefeng, 58, director of the General Administration of Customs, replaced Wang Dongfeng as the new party chief of Hebei province in the north. Peng, who was head of the liaison office in Hong Kong before he took the helm of Sichuan in 2018, has reached the retirement age of 65. The announcement did not say whether Wang Dongfeng, the 64-year-old outgoing party boss in Hebei, will be assigned a new position. Both Sichuan and Hebei are seen as key provinces in China because of their size, position and influence. Hebei is close to the capital Beijing, while Sichuan’s provincial capital of Chengdu and the neighbouring municipality of Chongqing are two of China’s most populous cities. The announcements of the two new party secretaries followed the appointment of Meng Fanli as the new party chief of Shenzhen on Tuesday. Meng, 56, is also seen as a rising star.