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Xi Jinping: China makes way for Xi Jinping to rule country for life

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BEIJING: China’s parliament on Sunday reversed a 35-year-old rule limiting the tenure of a president to two five-year terms and paved the way for Xi Jinping to continue in power indefinitely, putting the 64-year-old President in the same league of Mao Zedong, founder of Communist China.

Xi’s 10-year term is supposed to end in 2023.

The constitutional amendment bill was ratified by an overwhelming support from the delegates of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament. The bill was passed by 2,958 votes, just six short of a complete majority. Only two delegates voted against the move, three abstained and there was one invalid vote.

Critics of the move said that China shifted from “one-party rule” to essentially a “one-man rule”. The move blocked the emergence of an alternative leader, put unbridled power over the party, the military and the state administration in Xi’s hands for years to come.

The two-term rule was incorporated in the Constitution to block accumulation of power as was seen in the excesses during the Cultural Revolution under Mao.

The Communist Party, however, said the “speculation has no basis”, and claimed that the decision was aimed at strengthening coordination among various power centres. Addressing the media soon after the NPC ratified the Communist Party of China’s proposal, an official said the decision was taken to strengthen coordination between the party, the military and the country.

“It is an important measure to priorities the coordination between the party, the military and the country,” said Shen Chunyao, Chairman of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.

The NPC, which began with the playing of Chinese traditional music at the red-domed Great Hall of the People, approved the creation of a powerful national anti-corruption agency with extensive powers for surveillance. Xi is likely to promote Wang Qishan, the former anti-corruption czar, to the rank of vice-president later this week.

The move has wide implications for India, analysts feel. Xi launched the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through a portion of Kashmir. New Delhi can expect a strengthening of ties between Beijing and Islamabad, while China tries to sell project contracts to India under the Belt and Road programme.

The analysts say Xi’s second term, which has just begun, is likely to be different from the first one because he now enjoys more power.

Updated: March 11, 2018 — 7:57 pm

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