March 23, 2018

Xi Jinping becomes China's 'president for life' as Parliament abolishes term limits

12 March 2018, 01:51 | Megan Pierce

Xi poised to become China's leader for life

China's President Xi Jinping places his ballot in a box during a vote on an amendment to the constitution in Beijing China

The ruling Communist Party announced the proposals on February 25 and, amid a backlash in some quarters, has justified the change as a necessity to align the presidency with Xi's two other, more powerful, posts - heads of the party and the military - that have no term limits.

The NPC also endorsed another constitutional amendment to enshrine Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the country's Constitution. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

The limit of two five-year presidential terms was written into China's constitution in 1982 after Mao's death six years earlier by Deng Xiaoping, who recognized the dangers of one-man rule and the cult of personality after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and instead espoused collective leadership.

During that congress his name and a political theory attributed to him were added to the party constitution as he was given a second five-year term as general secretary.

China's National People's Congress voted Sunday to abolish presidential term limits.

But, says the BBC, China's president has now amassed power the likes of which has not been seen here for decades and he is even less likely to be challenged after today's result.

Xi, christened as "lingxiu" - a leader with highest prestige, is aggressively pushing China's military modernisation to make the world's largest army a mightier force capable of winning modern wars.

Xi's anti-corruption drive has created a list of enemies within the party and the wider business community.

Mr Xi places his ballot in a box during a vote on an amendment to the constitution
Mr Xi places his ballot in a box during a vote on an amendment to the constitution

Rodgers told Premier that now Xi Jinping is President for life and his power-base is strengthened, Christians in China can expect to see "continuing, perhaps increasing, repression".

But if any of the almost 3,000 legislators are secretly unhappy about the move, they could cast a protest vote by abstaining.

Although constitutional amendments require approval from two-thirds of the 3,000-member NPC in a secret ballot, passage was largely procedural. Along with the president, the changed constitution of Communist Party will also be applied to the Vice President.

This monolithic political structure, however, could be a wild card for China's economy, which is grappling with slower growth and soaring debt, observers say.

At the same time, they said, "Xi is fostering a political environment in China that increases the risk of policy failure" by surrounding himself with officials who are focused primarily on pleasing him, likely to the detriment of their candor. She "absolutely" hopes Xi can rule indefinitely, she said.

This was the first amendment to the country's fundamental law in 14 years.

The government has said lifting the term limits is about protecting the authority of the party with Xi at its center. "We've been cut off", said a representative of a Japanese company.

Yang Xiaodu, China's minister of supervision, last week likened the commission's job to "tugging on sleeves" as a way of "prohibiting people from making mistakes, or worsening mistakes they've already committed". China's government is tightening its grip on markets and encouraging state enterprises to grow and consolidate.

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