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Xi Jinping poised to become China's leader for life

12 March 2018

To amend the constitution, out of total 2,963 lawmakers, 3 were not present during voting and only 2 voted against the constitution change proposal.

The change, which has been criticised by a number of prominent Chinese figures, means President Xi can now rule indefinitely.

Xi signaled his strength past year when he had his theories added to the Communist Party charter and he bucked the trend to designate a successor at the end of his first term.

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By doing so, he has ushered in a new era of certain leadership but uncertain politics as would-be challengers no longer see a peaceful path to power.

Noting there were no term limits for general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and chairman of the state and party Central Military Commissions - all powerful positions Mr Xi holds - Mr Shen said there was consensus among people within and outside the party that term limits for the president should be removed too. It is unclear at this stage what Xi's exact ambitions are, and indeed the presidency is not the summit of power and influence in China.

Xi is also head of the communist party and head of the military, both of which have no formal term limits following the passing of yesterday's amendment. "Personalistic rule is back", Susan Shirk, a noted China expert who was USA deputy assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton, wrote in a recent essay. While some societies such as Singapore and Botswana are prosperous under governing parties that stay in power for decades while avoiding the excesses of one-man rule, other modern autocrats - from Zimbabwe to Iraq to North Korea - often blunder into economic stagnation, political dysfunction and war.

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I think, for example, of a labor law specialist (who was, and presumably still is, a member of the Chinese Communist Party) who envisioned, as he put it, "workplace democracy, then local democracy and then freedom". "Your speculations actually have no basis of existence". Liu was a puppet President and fell out of favour during Mao's Cultural Revolution. The last person so honoured was Mao himself, confirming Xi's designs on Mao-like levels of adulation.

In the Great Hall of the People, Xi cast his vote first, placing a paper into a large red ballot box, followed by the other six members of the party's elite Standing Committee. He has taken numerous levers of power that were from time to time more dispersed. His early academic career as well as his short stint as a visiting scholar in the U.S. in the late 1980s appear to have solidified his belief that the ability to exercise hard power was an important perquisite of worldwide relations and that enlightened authoritarianism, rather than democracy, would help China eradicate poverty and regain its rightful place in the world. The National Supervision Committee will stand alongside the CCDI, and extend the reach of the country's graft-busters. With the criminal justice system and the press controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, it should surprise no one that the corrupt officials most likely to be prosecuted are those who are viewed as opponents of high-ranking officials in positions of power.

Yang Xiaodu, China's minister of supervision, last week likened the commission's job to "tugging on sleeves" as a way of "prohibiting people from making mistakes, or worsening mistakes they've already committed".

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

Xi Jinping poised to become China's leader for life