Beijing: China’s rubber-stamp parliament today ratified a historic constitutional amendment abolishing decades old practice of two term limits for the president, paving way for President Xi Jinping to become China’s leader-for-life.
Set for his second five-year term as President this month, 64-year-old Xi, the most powerful leader in recent decades heading the ruling Communist Party (CPC) and the military, will now be the first Chinese leader after the founder chairman Mao Zedong to remain in power lifelong.
The constitutional amendment removing the term limits for the president and the vice president was approved by the parliament with 2,958 in favour, two against and three abstentions, official media reported. The National People’s Congress – regarded as the rubber stamp parliament – chose to follow paper ballot system instead of hand raising and electronic voting. The ballot contained agree, disagree and abstain clauses. President Xi stood up first at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to cast his paper ballot in a red box.
The first Constitution of China was enacted in 1954. The current Constitution has been in place since 1982 and has undergone four amendments in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004.
Ahead of the vote by deputies in the NPC, the seven member Standing Committee – the top most body of the ruling Communist Party of China – unanimously approved the amendment to abolish the presidential term limits.
The amendment effectively ended the collective leadership system followed by the CPC to avert a dictatorship emerging in otherwise a one-party state akin to the era of Mao which witnessed the most brutal events like Cultural Revolution resulting in the killings of millions of people.
Observers say the constitutional amendment in effective pays the way for China’s transition from being one party state to one leader state with Xi, described by some as an Emperor, to remain in power in the foreseeable future.
Xi, christened as “lingxiu” – a leader with highest prestige, is aggressively pushing Chinese military’s modernisation to make the world’s largest army a mightier force capable of winning modern wars.
The proposal of limitless tenure for Xi has sparked worldwide concerns specially in China’s neighbourhood.
For India, observers say, Xi’s continuation will have particular significance, specially in the backdrop of last year’s 73-day-long Dokalam standoff where Chinese troops tried to build a road in the area claimed by Bhutan to reach close to India’s narrow corridor connecting North Eastern states.
Under Xi, China has been pouring billions of dollars in India’s neighbourhood in projects like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor traversing through PoK, connectivity projects in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives, raising strategic stakes for India.