Xi Jinping Secures Lifetime Presidency in China

  • Xi Jinping Secures Lifetime Presidency in China

Xi Jinping Secures Lifetime Presidency in China

Inside Beijing's Great Hall of the People, almost 3,000 delegates to the National People's Congress (NPC) cast their ballots on a series of proposed amendments - including removing the restriction that had limited the presidency to two consecutive five-year terms.

The amendment, approved on Sunday by China's largely ceremonial parliament, upends a system enacted by its former 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 vote took place at the Great Hall of the People on iconic Tiananmen Square, where nearly 30 years ago student-led pro-democracy protests were crushed by the Communist regime.

The concentration of power in Xi's hands "means that China could return to the era of Chairman Mao, when the Great Helmsman, who had no term limits, ruled by diktat", wrote Willy Lam, a senior fellow at USA think tank Jamestown Foundation and an adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in an online commentary last week. But the government quickly mounted a propaganda push, blocking some articles and publishing pieces praising the party.

For India, observers say, Xi's continuation will have particular significance, especially in the backdrop of last year's 73-day-long Dokalam standoff where Chinese troops tried to build a road in the area claimed by Bhutan to reach close to India's narrow corridor connecting North Eastern states.

"Protecting the country's long-term stability is an extremely good thing", Cheng Bingqiang from Sichuan province told Reuters shortly ahead of the vote, when asked if he anxious about Xi being in office forever.

While calling for China's "great rejuvenation" as a world power, Xi has cultivated a personal image as a man of the people who dresses modestly and buys his own steamed buns at an ordinary shop. "There's no one system that suits all countries".

"You can't ask me that", said one lady, laughing nervously and declining to give her name. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday that Xi is the "chief architect" of the policy of raising the country's global profile.

He cast his vote right after the seven members of the Standing Committee.

His predecessors - Jiang Zemin who was in power from 1993 to 2003 and Hu Jintao from 2003 to 2013 - stepped down as the General Secretary of the party as well as the president after widely followed rule as well as a convention of two terms to promote collective leadership system in the one-party state. I was discussing with my friends and we were enraged.

Warm applause broke out in the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Sunday as China's Parliament overwhelmingly voted to end the two-term limit of the presidency.

Another person took to Twitter to express doubt that those people were even real: "fabricating opposition votes, rather than unanimous approval, is a tactic that the Communist Party of China took to show that it's more democratic than Kim Jong-un and Saddam".

Xi signaled his strength a year ago 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.

Significantly, today's amendment also removed term-limits for the Vice President.

While the presidency is important, Xi's positions as head of the party and head of the military are considered more important, and these titles are always given first by state media.