China scraps two-term limit, makes Xi President for life

Angelica Greene
March 12, 2018

Two Chinese political delegates voted against a provision to allow Xi Jinping to remain president, unbound by term limits.

Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to vote during the third plenary session of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2018.

Sunday's announcement of the vote, witnessed by reporters in the Great Hall of the People, passed with two "no" votes and three abstentions among nearly 3000 delegates.

But those six were - like the lawyers, labour activists and human rights advocates who have questioned their country's direction under Mr. Xi in the past five years - swept away by the power of a Chinese president who has fashioned himself into a singular force of national leadership. While the title of "core" leader puts Xi on par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the litmus test for Xi would be ensuring economic stability throughout China and prevail through the economic muddle, given that China's unsteady economic growth rate is becoming progressively hard to predict with precision.

China has cracked down on online criticism of Xi's power play, even as shares of companies with "king" or "emperor" in their names surged after the amendment was unveiled. A total of 2,964 votes were cast.

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

The vote sets up a path that current president Xi Jinping could navigate to rule indefinitely. Only two delegates voted no, three abstained and one ballot was spoiled.

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The landslide approval vote has been a foregone conclusion since the proposal was made public two weeks ago.

"The Constitution was also updated to state that the leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics".

While the reform and opening-up drive, which began 40 years ago, has made fantastic progress, it brought major changes to the country's Constitution.

The amendment overhauls a system introduced by former leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982, which was introduced with the aim of preventing a repeat of the bloody reign of Mao Zedong. "Thorny issues like overhauling the health care and pension systems can no longer be put off by officials hoping his priorities will change in 2022". 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 amendment's vast significance could account for the veil of secrecy that has apparently fallen over this year's legislative session.

The CPC has justified scrapping of term limits for Xi saying that it is aimed at strengthening coordination between the party, the military and the country and dismissed concerns of the return of Mao-era dictatorship as "groundless". "We've been cut off", said a representative of a Japanese company.

The commission would expand the reach of corruption investigations, which up to now have mostly been conducted by a Communist Party agency acting largely beyond the law. China's government is tightening its grip on markets and encouraging state enterprises to grow and consolidate.

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