China set to give Xi lifelong rule today

  • China set to give Xi lifelong rule today

China set to give Xi lifelong rule today

China's rubber-stamp parliament has amended the country's constitution to end term limits for the presidency, thus allowing President Xi Jinping to stay in power for an indefinite period.

The amendment's passage Sunday by the National People's Congress' almost 3,000 hand-picked delegates is all but certain.

Following Mao's disastrous economic campaigns and the bloody 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, the Communist leadership sought to prevent further chaos by tempering presidential power through a system in which major personnel and policy decisions were hashed out by the ruling Politburo Standing Committee. Political pundits are comparing Xi's rule with the founder of China who ruled the country from 1949 until his death in the year 1976.

"The legacy of Deng Xiaoping's efforts to avoid lifelong presidency have been abolished completely", he said. Xi's 10-year term is supposed to end in 2023.

Out of 2,964 ballots, just two delegates voted against the move and three abstained, suggesting minimal opposition to Xi's push to rule for life.

But after Xi, 64, became president in 2013, he quickly consolidated power and swept away his opponents in a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign.

In late February, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party proposed the removal of the constitutional provision implying that Chinese president and vice-president should serve no more than two consecutive terms.

Though state-controlled media insisted that the constitutional changes had "won the hearts of the people", the news spurred a wave of public worry about a return to the despotic politics of the past.

The vote approved a list of amendments that also included updating the Constitution with salutes to Mr. Xi and his drive to assert party supremacy.

It means President Xi Jinping can rule indefinitely.

The revisions also include adding Xi's political doctrine - "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", to the constitution, following a similar inclusion in the party's charter in October.

This would make Xi the only leader after Mao and his predecessor Deng whose thoughts were written into the Constitution.

The first constitutional amendment in 14 years had been expected to breeze through the legislature, which has never rejected a Communist Party diktat in its half-century of existence. Now, the future of largest populous in the country depends upon the Xi Jinping, who has emerged as the powerful leader in China in recent years.