China’s one-party political landscape yesterday changed as the country’s rubber-stamp parliament ratified a historic constitutional amendment abolishing the two-term limit for President Xi Jinping, paving the way for his continuation in power perhaps 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 of China (CPC) and the military, will now be the first Chinese leader after the founder chairman Mao Zedong to remain in power lifelong.
The National People’s Congress (NPC) has kept its reputation as the rubber stamp parliament for its routine approval of CPC proposals by voting exactly to the official script.
The amendment removing the term limits for the president and the vice president was approved by the NPC with 2,958 in favour, two against and three abstentions, official media reported. The two votes of dissent were apparently has the official sanction to show semblance of diversity.
For today’s vote, the NPC chose to follow paper ballot system instead of hand raising and electronic voting.
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.
The removal of the term limit was regarded as the biggest political change in the one-party system which remained in force in China since 1949.
Ahead of the vote by deputies in the NPC, the seven member Standing Committee – the topmost body of the ruling Communist Party of China – unanimously approved the amendment to abolish the presidential term limits.