The Wall Street Journal: Xi set to rule indefinitely as China repeals term limits

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BEIJING — Since China’s Communist Party unveiled plans to let Xi Jinping remain president indefinitely, delegates to the national legislature have gushingly likened him to a Buddhist saint or the world’s longest-serving monarch.

Their devotion translated into a near-unanimous vote on Sunday to scrap presidential term limits and approve other constitutional changes to entrench Xi and his Communist Party’s dominance over Chinese life.

The vote, a formality for a congress dominated by Xi’s ruling party, stripped away an institutional check against one-man rule installed after the 1976 death of Mao Zedong, whose autocratic rule was marked by policy disasters and bloody power struggles.

It brought presidential tenures in line with Xi’s other, more powerful, posts of party chief and military-commission chairman, which aren’t subject to formal term limits. Delegates and officials say “centralized, unified leadership” under Xi will allow continuity in decision-making to better steer China’s modernization. Others saw the change as setting China on a risky path. The revision “disrupts the key feature that the Chinese Communist Party, unlike most other communist parties, had been able to achieve: leadership succession,” said Daniel Leese, a professor at Germany’s University of Freiburg. “The risk of compiling all power in one hand will become visible most clearly in periods of crisis,” said Leese, who has studied the Mao personality cult.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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