China's President Xi Jinping attends the second plenary session of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Greg Baker
China's President Xi Jinping attends the second plenary session of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Greg Baker

China approves president for life

CHINA'S parliament has passed historic constitutional changes that abolish term limits to let President Xi Jinping rule indefinitely.

Sunday's announcement of the vote, witnessed by reporters in the Great Hall of the People, passed with two "no" votes and three abstentions among almost 3000 delegates.

China's ruling Communist Party proposed the amendment last month and there was never any doubt it would pass as parliament is packed with loyal party members who would not have opposed the proposal.

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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.

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

Xi Jinping places his ballot in a ballot box during a plenary session of China's National People's Congress. Picture: AP/Mark Schiefelbein
Xi Jinping places his ballot in a ballot box during a plenary session of China's National People's Congress. Picture: AP/Mark Schiefelbein

In a sign of the issue's sensitivity, government censors are aggressively scrubbing social media of expressions ranging from "I disagree" to "Xi Zedong." US President Donald Trump was criticised last week for seeming to approve of Xi's unlimited rule, saying: "President for life ... I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."



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