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Xi Jinping can be president for life as Chinese parliament removes term limit

China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, on March 19, 2017. (State Department/Public Domain)

President Xi Jinping can now continue after his tenure ends in 2023 as China on Sunday amended its constitution to remove the two-term limit, amid fears that he is building a cult of power and personality around himself.

Nearly 3,000 legislators or deputies of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, voted to amend the Constitution.

It effectively means that Xi could remain President for life. He is already the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the chairperson of the Central Military Commission and was designated the “core” of the party in 2016.

China had a two-term limit for decades.

As many as 2,958 deputies gathered at the Great Hall of People voted in favour of changing the Constitution with just two voted against it while three abstained.

The decision to amend the constitution was a foregone conclusion after it was made public a week before the annual session of the NPC, which began on March 5. A report in the official Xinhua news agency made it public on March 25.

It was later revealed that Xi had presided over a meeting on the CPC politburo as early as September when it was decided to change the constitution.

On Sunday, ballots were distributed and delegates were given choices to vote for or against the move, or abstain.

The measure has faced both domestic and international criticism and questions from academics and journalists.

“China needs a certain amount of centralisation. But what do we do after the centralisation? If it is back to the Mao era, of course, the centralisation is a bad thing. If we can further promote the reform of market economy and legal democracy, then the centralisation is a good thing,” said professor Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based expert on Chinese politics and economics.

“Delegates have been primed on the importance of delivering a resounding endorsement of the proposed changes – they have been whipped (in parliamentary parlance) and made aware of the importance of showing unity around the decision to centralise power in Xi’s hands,” Jonathan Sullivan, director, China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, said.

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©2018 the Hindustan Times (New Delhi)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.