China makes historic move to allow Xi to rule indefinitely

What Xi Jinping's power play means for China's economy

China's legislature voted nearly unanimously on Sunday in favour of changing the country's constitution to remove presidential and vice-presidential term limits, formally allowing Xi Jinping to stay on as head of state beyond 2023.

The NPC was also expected to endorse another draft constitutional amendment to enshrine "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" in the fundamental law.

The Assembly of Central Committee of Communist Party which has just concluded has not been more relevant to creation of large amendments to Chinese Constitution in its bosom.

The Communist Party's power-broking congress in October confirmed Xi's induction into the leadership pantheon alongside Mao and market reformer Deng Xiaoping by writing his name and political ideology into the party's constitution.

When China's ruling Communist Party proposed the amendment in February, it was met with criticism from various quarters.

The abolition of the limit of two five-year terms for the presidency caps Xi's repeated maneuvers to cement his power.

He also claimed that the amendments which will literally ensure a life term rule of the 64-year-old Xi was worked out after reaching a "high level of consensus" both in the CPC and the country.

The overarching body will extend the powers of the party's graft watchdog to police all public employees, from officials and managers of state-owned enterprises to teachers, doctors and journalists.

The constitutional changes, passed by China's annual sitting of the National People's Congress on Sunday, confirm Xi's status as the country's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong died more than 40 years ago.

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

In a sign of the issue's sensitivity, the government censors are aggressively scrubbing social media of expressions ranging from "I disagree" to "Xi Zedong".

The National People's Congress approved two additional constitutional amendments, including "the addition of a political philosophy called Xi Jinping Thought to the constitution, and the creation of politically driven 'supervisory commissions' tasked with investigating party members and civil servants", The Guardian reported.

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.

Noting that the 1982 charter had removed mention of party leadership in its articles - which was the case in earlier charters - and that party leadership was mentioned only in the preamble, veteran Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, writing in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, said the revision meant that "China is regressing".

In China, there was opposition to the change.

The US-based group Human Rights in China said there were huge risks in allowing such a concentration of power.

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