China’s legislature was almost unanimously endorsed a change constitution Sunday in Bejing, formally removing term limits to enable Xi Jinping to stay on as the president for life.
The National People’s Congress passed the constitutional amendments with 2,958 votes in favour, only two against, and three abstentions.
The surprise move is the boldest yet by Jinping as he seeks to restore China to what he considers its rightful place as a global power – an agenda that his allies have suggested requires his leadership.
Xi, who was given a second term as the party’s general secretary at the five-yearly party congress in October, has amassed seemingly unchecked power and a level of officially stoked adulation unseen since Communist China’s founder Mao.
But the government quickly mounted a propaganda push, blocking some articles and publishing pieces praising the party.
The Assembly of Central Committee of Communist Party which has just concluded has not been more relevant to creation of large amendments to Chinese Constitution in its bosom.
He Guangliang from the southwestern province of Guizhou said it wasn’t fair to draw comparisons with North Korea.
However the question was too sensitive for several legislators, who scurried away when asked about Xi being in office forever.
Next week, Mr Xi’s former anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan is likely to be installed as vice-president with major responsibilities. Under ex-President Hu Jintao you could imagine differing views being expressed in the then nine-member Politburo Standing Committee.
“Ending the two-term limit ignores the painful lesson of the Mao era and exposes the Chinese people again to the massive human suffering, abuses and national catastrophe that could result from unaccountable power concentrated in the hands of one person”, Sharon Hom, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. I was discussing with my friends and we were enraged.
Posts in his party and the People’s Liberation Army posts do not have term limits.
The move has been met with an unusually high amount of criticism in China.
Since the amendment to scrap presidential term limits also applies to the vice presidency, many analysts see growing signs of the hitherto ceremonial position going to one of Xi’s most trusted lieutenants.
Russian nationalist philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, himself a vocal supporter of the Kremlin’s proactive foreign policy, recently told Italian public TV broadcaster RAI that after Putin’s retirement or demise, Russia could enter a prolonged period of instability, given that Putin has politically eliminated any credible alternative to himself, breeding a class of subservient and corrupt leaders.
Although constitutional amendments require approval from two-thirds of the 3,000-member NPC in a secret ballot, passage was largely procedural.