China's 'president for life': Congress votes to abolish term limits | 2018-03-11 |

China's 'president for life': Congress votes to abolish term limits

BBC     11th March, 2018 02:16:56 printer

China's 'president for life': Congress votes to abolish term limits


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 on Sunday.


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 has imposed a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s.


Mr Xi, however, 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, Mao Zedong.


In late February, the party proposed removing term limits from China's constitution. Mr Xi was due to step down in 2023.


On paper, the congress is the most powerful legislative body in China - similar to the parliament in other nations. But it was widely believed that it would approve what it was told to.


Mr Xi's possible third term is not the only item the National People's Congress is likely to approve. It is also expected to:


confirm China's new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping's second term as president


ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency


ratify the inclusion of the president's political philosophy - "Xi Jinping Thought" - in the constitution



Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.


Mr Xi became president in 2012, and quickly consolidated personal power while cementing China as the regional superpower.


He also fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members - which has helped his popularity among some.


At the same time, however, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs.