China removes term limits; Xi Jingping to remain President for life

Chinese president Xi Jinping

Beijing has hit out at the "shameless" and "malicious" western "naysayers" who have questioned Xi Jinping's historic power grab, a move that sets the Communist party leader up to rule China for life.

The nearly 3,000 delegates to the country's rubber-stamp legislature passed the measure as part of a package of changes to the country's constitution, with 2,958 voting for, two against and three abstaining.

Within minutes, the state news agency Xinhua's English language website posted the headline: "China's national legislature adopts constitutional amendment".

NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang said, "Every one of us on the NPC Standing Committee approves and supports amending Constitution".

The party's official organ, People's Daily, also said abolishing term limits did not mean lifelong terms.

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.

CHINA's powerful leader Xi Jinping will be allowed to remain a Chairman Mao-style "president for life" after a constitutional amendment was passed today.

Xi, who would have been due to step down in 2023, defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October's Communist Party Congress.

PRESIDENT of China Xi Jinping has sent his and China's condolences to the people affected by the quake, saying they stand ready to assist the government rebuild the affected provinces.

The two-term limit was approved in 1982 to prevent a repeat of a decadeslong reign by Mao Zedong, who died while in office.

Xi Jinping's predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin also held all three positions, but each stepped down as president and then transitioned to new leadership largely after two terms.

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

"Protecting the country's long-term stability is an extremely good thing", Cheng Bingqiang from Sichuan province told Reuters shortly ahead of the vote, when asked if he anxious about Xi being in office forever. Rather, China was moving towards a "brighter and brighter" future, Shen said, according to Reuters.

There were some sceptical remarks made about the plan in the run-up to the vote, including comparisons with North Korea's dynastic rule, and fears of concentrating too much power in one person, but the government responded with a propaganda push stressing Mr Xi's central role in the party and the success of his policies. Along with the president, the changed constitution of Communist Party will also be applied to the Vice President.

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

Carl Minzner, professor at Fordham Law School and the author of "End of an Era: How China's Authoritarian Revival is Undermining Its Rise", said Sunday's vote showed that the political norms that have governed Chinese politics for decades are coming undone.

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