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12 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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China allows Xi Jinping to rule for life

AP

China's rubber-stamp lawmakers on Sunday passed a historic constitutional amendment abolishing a presidential two-term limit that will enable Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely, reports AP. The amendment upends a system enacted by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent a return to the bloody excesses of a lifelong dictatorship typified by Mao Zedong's chaotic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

"This marks the biggest regression in China's legal system since the reform and opening-up era of the 1980s," said Zhang Lifan, an independent, Beijing-based political commentator. "I'm afraid that this will all be written into our history in the future," Zhang said. Voting among the National People's Congress' nearly 3,000 hand-picked delegates began in the mid-afternoon, with Xi leading members of the Communist Party's seven-member all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee in casting their votes. He placed his orange ballot paper in a red box bearing the official seal of state placed front and center on the stage inside the cavernous hall.

Rank-and-file deputies then rose to vote on the floor of the hall as jaunty instrumental music played. Ten minutes later, the process had ended and delegates were asked to return to their seats while the votes were counted.

Shortly after 3:50 p.m., the results were read out over the public address system and flashed briefly on a screen in the hall. The delegates voted 2,958 in favor, with two opposed, three abstaining and one vote invalidated.

"The constitutional amendment item has passed," the announcer declared to polite applause.

The 64-year-old Xi appeared to show little emotion, remaining in his seat with other deputies to listen to a report on the work of the congress delivered by its outgoing chairman.

The slide toward one-man rule under Xi has fueled concern that Beijing is eroding efforts to guard against the excesses of autocratic leadership and make economic regulation more stable and predictable.

The amendment also inserted Xi's personal political philosophy into the preamble of the constitution and phrasing that emphasizes the leadership of the ruling Communist Party.

"It is rare nowadays to see a country with a constitution that emphasizes the constitutional position of any one political party," said Zhang, the political commentator.

In a sign of the issue's sensitivity, government censors are aggressively

scrubbing social media of expressions ranging from “I disagree” to “Xi Zedong.” A number of prominent Chinese figures have publicly protested the move, despite the risk of official retaliation.

The legislature’s spokesman has said the abolishing of term limits is aimed only at bringing the office of the president in line with Xi’s other positions atop the Communist Party and the Central Military Commission, which do not impose term limits.

While some scholars questioned the wisdom of the move, others said they saw value in sending the message that Xi would be setting policy for many years to come.

“In fact, the more Xi Jinping’s position is consolidated and the longer his governing time is to last, the more secure it is for the continuity of the policies,” said Liu Jiangyong, a professor at Renmin University’s School of International Relations.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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