News ID: 211509
Published: 0400 GMT March 11, 2018

China's parliament puts Xi on course to rule for life

China's parliament puts Xi on course to rule for life

China's Xi Jinping on Sunday secured a path to rule indefinitely as parliament abolished presidential term limits, handing him almost total authority to pursue a vision of transforming the nation into an economic and military superpower.

The move reverses the era of "collective" leadership and orderly succession that was promoted by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to ensure stability following the turbulent one-man rule of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong, AFP reported.

The historic constitutional amendment cleared the parliament with 2,958 in favor, two against, three abstentions and one invalid vote.

Xi, 64, stood up first at the imposing Great Hall of the People in Beijing to cast his paper ballot in a red box, as delegates of the National People's Congress applauded after each vote on the constitutional amendment to lift the two five-year term limit for the presidency.

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.

The package of amendments included major provisions to inscribe Xi's eponymous political mantra in the constitution, give the Communist Party an even larger role in the country's affairs and expand the president's anti-corruption campaign.

The country's presidency is a largely ceremonial office, but the constitutional limits meant Xi would have had to give it up in 2023.

But with the new amendments, he could now have a lifetime to push his goal of turning China into a global economic powerhouse with a "world-class" military by mid-century.

He gained a measure of popularity among Chinese people through a relentless crackdown on corruption that has punished more than a million party officials.

The Communist Party has argued that the move merely aligns the presidency with the limit-free titles of party secretary and military chief.

Shen Chunyao, chairman of the legislature's legal affairs panel, brushed aside a foreign reporter's question about fears that a return to one-man rule could spark a power struggle, telling a press conference: "Those assumptions, guesses and extrapolations don't exist."

In the past nine decades of the party’s history it has overcome hardships and resolved major problems, including orderly leadership transitions and keeping the party and country’s vitality and long-term stability, he added.

“In the nearly 40 years of reform and opening up, we have successfully established, upheld and expanded the political development road of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Shen said.

“So, going forward the road we are on will definitely be longer and wider, and the future brighter and brighter.”

Activists fear that removing term limits may lead to a further tightening of already strict controls on media, civil society and religion.


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