China has approved the removal of term limits for its leader, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.
The constitutional changes were passed by China’s annual sitting of the National People’s Congress yesterday.
The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.
China had imposed a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s.
It was designed to prevent another leader like Chairman Mao Zedong emerging, espousing collective leadership rather than one-man rule and the cult of personality.
But, according to the BBC’s Stephen McDonell in Beijing, China’s president has amassed power the likes of which has not been seen for decades and he is even less likely to be challenged after yesterday’s result.
Xi defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October’s Communist Party Congress.
Instead, he consolidated his political power as the party voted to enshrine his name and political ideology in the party’s constitution – elevating his status to the level of its founder, Chairman Mao.
In late February, the party proposed removing term limits from China’s constitution. Xi was due to step down in 2023.
On paper, the congress is the most powerful legislative body in China – similar to parliament in other nations. But it was widely believed that it would approve what it was told to.
The issue is not, however, without controversy.
Censors in China have been blocking discussion around the topic, including images of Winnie the Pooh. Social media users have taken to using the cartoon character to represent Xi. — BBC.