As expected (and predicted, and propagandized), China’s National People’s Congress overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to eliminate presidential term limits, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power after his second term ends in 2023.
The vote was as follows, per the AFP’s Joanna Chiu: 2958 in favor, 2 against, 3 abstentions, 1 invalid vote.
As we noted previously, Sunday’s move will make Mr. Xi much more powerful than he already was, and will “dampen any remnants of resistance to his rule”, said Zhang Baohui, professor of international affairs at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
“Once people know he will serve for who knows how long, it will strengthen his power and motivate everybody to bandwagon with him,” said Mr. Zhang. “Any rival will think he will be almighty.”
In other words, “Dear Leader” has returned.
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This historic shift was predicted by many since last fall, when Xi refused to appoint a successor as his power would begin to wane in a year or two as he entered what would’ve been a lame duck period for his presidency – the second half of his second term.
At the same party congress, Mr. Xi conspicuously broke with precedent by choosing not to name a pair of much younger officials to the Politburo’s ruling inner circle, the seven-member standing committee, to serve as his heirs-in-waiting. Instead, Mr. Xi chose men — no women — who were closer to his own age or older.
Mr. Xi’s strongman style has been compared to that of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. But even Mr. Putin, who has amassed considerable personal power, did not try to erase his country’s constitutional limit on serving more than two consecutive terms as president as he approached that limit in 2008.
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