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

Monday, 12 Mar, 2018

But the lopsided outcome - 2,958 votes in favor, two against and three abstentions - underlined how much Mr. Xi dominates politics and feels emboldened to demand drastic change. The ballot contained agree, disagree and abstain clauses.

Today's vote was effectively a rubber stamping exercise, as 3,000 delegates voted overwhelmingly to support Xi.

At the same time, however, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs.

The senior Communists rejected that possibility, saying that a wide range of people in the county support the constitutional amendment.

China's National People's Congress is often described as a parliament, but in practice its function is to approve the proposals the Communist Party sends it, not to challenge them - it has yet to vote down a single one.

Under Xi's attempt to shore up the legitimacy of the party-state, the constitution now has the party's leading role written into the document's main body, declaring the party's leadership as the "most fundamental feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics". Xi launched the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through a portion of Kashmir. On Sunday, attention was focused on Wang Qishan, a confidante of Xi who some media reports have said will be named as vice president next week as part of the new leadership lineup for Xi's second term.

The Chinese president was due to step down in 2023.

He has used crackdowns on corruption and calls for a revitalised party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

The NPC in the next few days is also set to ratify new name for all top government posts.

The 64-year-old Xi, already hailed as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, last week gave a ringing endorsement to the proposed constitutional changes, calling them a reflection of the "common will of the party and the people".

"There's no separation of the party and the government", Wang said a year ago during a political meeting in Beijing. The amendments' passage required two thirds of the vote. "The era began after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976, when China tried to move away from the political violence and cult of personality that characterized his rule". The main, no doubt, is elimination of limits to presidential errands that Deng Xiaoping had introduced in his day to institutionalize power and avoid Mao's personalism.

While the position has no term limits, his two predecessors both gave it up after two terms as part of an orderly process established by Deng.

The party later disclosed that Xi had presided over a meeting of the Politburo in September during which the leadership chose to revise the constitution.