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Mar 11, 2018 06:32 PM IST | Source: Reuters

China allows Xi to remain president indefinitely, tightening his grip on power

Xi is Jinping already regarded as the most powerful leader of China after Mao as he held the posts of head of the CPC, the military and the Presidency.

China removed presidential term limits from its constitution on Sunday, giving President Xi Jinping the right to remain in office indefinitely, and confirming his status as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong died more than 40 years ago, reports Reuters. China’s ruling Communist Party announced the proposed amendment only last month and there was never any doubt it would pass as parliament is packed with loyal party members who would not have opposed the proposal.

The amendments also include inserting Xi’s political theory into the constitution, something that was already added to the party charter in October at the end of a party congress, a feat no other leader since Mao had managed while in office. Additionally, clauses were included to give a legal framework to a new super anti-corruption department. Only two “no” votes were cast, with three abstentions, from almost 3,000 delegates.

Reporters were briefly ushered from the main hall in the Great Hall of the People as delegates filled in their ballot papers, but allowed in to see them placing the papers, one by one, into large red ballot boxes around the room. Xi cast his vote first, on the podium at the front of the hall, followed in turn by the other six members of the party’s elite Standing Committee, which runs China.

The room erupted into loud applause when the result of the vote was passed, though Xi did not address parliament. The limit of two five-year presidential terms was written into China’s constitution in 1982 after Mao’s death six years earlier by Deng Xiaoping, who recognised the dangers of one-man rule and the cult of personality after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and instead espoused collective leadership.

Speaking later to reporters, Shen Chunyao, chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of parliament’s standing committee, dismissed concerns the move could risk a return to strongman rule or lead to political turmoil or infighting. “As for the assumptions, conjecture and stretched situations in your question, I think that does not exist,” Shen said.
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