Zeal for Xi Jinping across China's media

Citizens shown celebrating amid patriotic fervour as legislature approves second presidential term

China's President Xi Jinping votes during the sixth plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 18, 2018.

China's rubber-stamp parliament unanimously handed President Xi Jinping a second term on March 17 and elevated his right-hand man Wang Qishan to the vice presidency, giving him a strong ally to consolidate power and handle US trade threats. / AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR
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With pictures of ecstatic citizens standing in applause, tearful legislators and even a social media game, China's propaganda drive accelerated into high gear after Xi Jinping's unanimous reappointment as president.
Mr Xi's face dominated the front pages of Sunday newspapers, many of which carried the same editorial from the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, using language more associated with revolutionary former chairman Mao Zedong, to say he was a "leader loved and respected by the people" and "helmsman of the country".
"The voyage of a great country cannot do without a helmsman," the paper wrote.
There was never really any doubt that the "rubber-stamp" parliament would not re-elected Mr Xi as president on Saturday, especially following the constitutional amendment a week earlier which lifted presidential term limits, allowing him to stay on indefinitely.

While the amendment was passed with just six dissenters - two "no" votes, three abstentions and one invalidated ballot - none of the almost 3,000 legislators voted against Mr Xi, a point that was repeatedly made in state media coverage.


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After the vote - described as a "solemn and sacred historic moment" - state television showed images from the Great Hall of the People of some legislators in tears after Mr Xi swore an oath to the constitution. 
In a moment of high political theatre, a copy of the constitution was carried onto the main stage by three members of the armed forces.

Other pictures on state media showed people applauding in front of television screens around the country, cheering Mr Xi’s reappointment.

The government has presented this month’s parliamentary session and its controversial removal of the presidential term limits as widely welcomed, despite criticism that has evaded the censors and seeped onto Chinese social media at times.

The social media accounts of state media expressed their support, even as comments sections were disabled or only showed positive remarks from users.

Late on Saturday, the People's Daily WeChat account went live with a game where players have 20 seconds to press the screen as many times as they can to register a "like" for all the government's achievements of the past five years - Mr Xi's first term in office.

The top-rated comment on Sunday morning was one user proudly saying he had pressed “like” 181 times.

“Press like for Uncle Xi!” wrote another user, using a popular term of endearment for the Chinese leader.

Wang Qishan was voted as Mr Xi's deputy, to the position of Vice President, giving the leader a strong ally to consolidate power and handle threats to trade from the United States.