Xi allowed to remain president indefinitely

Framed portraits of German philosopher Karl Marx Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin and China’s late leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping hang above a screen showing President Xi Jinping

In a historic decision, China on Sunday removed the two-term limit on presidency and vice presidency, clearing the decks for the all-powerful President Xi Jinping to rule the world's most populous country indefinitely.

It is the same restriction, which almost 3,000 lawmakers - called deputies of the National People's Congress - will lift when they vote on Sunday to amend the country's Constitution in a highly choreographed fashion.

The two-term limit on the presidency was introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1982.

Traditionally, the next president is named by the current as his successor at the party's key once in-five-years meet, a policy which was followed by Xi Jinping's predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.

Out of 2,964 ballots, just two delegates voted against the move and three abstained, suggesting minimal opposition to Xi's push to rule for life.

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.

He has also set up a new anti-corruption agency which will have wide-ranging powers to investigate wrong-doing throughout the country.

Though state-controlled media insisted that the constitutional changes had "won the hearts of the people", the news spurred a wave of public worry about a return to the despotic politics of the past.

Because of this, he is considered to be the most powerful leader after China's revolutionary founder Mao Zedong.

Fighting graft and upholding party leadership were already central to him when he spoke to AFP in 2000.

He also fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members - which has helped his popularity among some.

The president's post is largely ceremonial while the real power rests with the CPC General Secretary and Chairman of the Military Commission, the overall high-command of the military.

"I think that during the past five years, he has been carrying out a soft coup, including making the Politburo a mere figurehead", Chinese political commentator Wu Qiang said, referring to the 25-member Communist Party body one level under the ruling council.

There is eerie silence all over the country over the approval of the amendments, with Chinese censors aggressively removing anything remotely connected to the comments in the social media through the firewalls.

Chinese leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng attended the plenary meeting.

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