Only One Chinese Official Got a ‘No’ Vote at Xi’s Coronation

(Bloomberg) — Li Hongzhong has built a reputation as the Chinese official most eager to heap praise on leader Xi Jinping. Now he has a new distinction: the only nominee to receive a “no” vote this year for a leadership role in the country’s legislature.

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Li, who also sits on the 24-member Politburo, received one abstention and one vote against his bid to become one of 14 vice chairpersons on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The other 13 nominees for the position, as well as one for secretary-general of the legislature’s top body, got unanimous support from China’s 2,952 lawmakers.

At the gathering, nobody voted against Xi as he was confirmed for a precedent-busting third term. The NPC also voted unanimously to install former anti-graft chief Zhao Leji as the body’s new leader and Han Zheng as vice president.

Minutes after the results were announced, Li then misread his constitutional oath. Instead of saying “safeguarding the authority of the constitution,” he substituted in the word “dignity.”

Back in 2016, Li was among the first top Communist Party officials to publicly endorse Xi as the “core” near the end of his first term as president — a designation that would pave the way for his consolidation of power. As party chief of the coastal metropolis of Tianjin a year later, Li extolled Xi’s public statements, saying they showed “thoughts, theories, emotion, charm and the highest level of a politician.”

Li has also been at the forefront of preaching loyalty to the Communist Party. He once famously said that if someone is “not absolutely loyal” to the party, that means he or she “is absolutely not loyal.”

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