China passes law to allow President Xi Jinping to rule for life

Xi poised to become China's leader for life

China's largely ceremonial parliament on Sunday overwhelmingly endorsed a controversial change to the country's constitution, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely.

Since Xi assumed leadership of China's Communist Party in 2012, he has rapidly consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong.

Now that the Communist Party has announced its intention to remove the constitutional two-term limit for the presidency, the legislative and constitutional changes required to ratify the move will see Li Zhanshu playing a pivotal role, favouring Xi.

In another victory for Jinping, the draft amendments to the Constitution would add his trademark expression for his main ideas - "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" - into the preamble of the Constitution. Only two delegates voted no, three abstained and one ballot was spoiled.

On Sunday, the National People's Congress' almost 3,000 hand-picked delegates unanimously voted in favor of the amendment proposing the removal of presidential term limits.

"Xi is not a Deng Xiaoping figure", said Tsang of the SOAS China Institute.

US President Donald Trump was criticised last week for seeming to approve of Xi's unlimited rule, saying: "President for life". The amendments' passage required two thirds of the vote.

Having purged the Communist Party of 278,000 officials and with "Xi Jinping Thought" being taught across national curricula, the president has successively sought to consolidate power and marginalize elites so as to remain in charge.

"I'm afraid that this will all be written into our history in the future,"' Zhang said.

Asked by a foreign journalist whether China risks returning to one-man rule and the savage turbulence of the Mao Zedong era, Mr. Shen described "two rounds of applause" by the hand-picked delegates to China's rubber-stamp parliament during an explanation of the constitutional change. "In a country like China, power corruption could go even further". On Sunday, attention was focused on Wang Qishan, a Xi confidant who, according to some media reports, will be named vice president next week as part of the new leadership lineup for Xi's second term. Repealing presidential term limits was "an important measure for perfecting the system of the party and the state", the party's People Daily newspaper said in a commentary published Wednesday, citing the lesson of the Soviet Union's collapse.

Take the National Supervision Commission, an anti-graft body with power over China's entire public service which will now have equal standing with the country's court systems.

Significantly, today's amendment also removed term limits for the vice president.

Shops sell commemorative plates and memorabilia with his image alongside Mao's and he has accumulated so many political and military titles - from president, to Central Military Commission chairman and party "core" - that he has earned the nickname "Chairman of Everything". With renewed hope, China's observers have followed development of last week's Communist Party assembly with a great deal of interest.

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