China has voted to end presidential time limits, making President Xi Jinping, as of Sunday, the most powerful Chinese ruler since Chairman Mao Zedong. An almost unanimous vote from a parliament stacked with Communist Party loyalists, which voted to amend the constitution and lift the limits. In effect it means Xi could rule China for an entire generation.
He now carries more power than ever to act on enforcing its territorial claims in the South China Sea, and to push Beijing's political agenda across Asia and beyond. Especially since as, Reuters' Ben Blanchard explains, Xi has made sure to scrub out any form of opposition in China.>> President Xi very clearly has gotten rid of a lot of his political enemies and a lot of the people that could potentially have challenged him.
He's really done this by using the fight against corruption to fell some of these people. Very unlikely at this point that there would be any sort of concerted challenge from within the party against President Xi. And actually you have to remember that, in China, Xi Jinping is very popular.
The fight against corruption has been a huge success. President Xi is increasingly looking like a global leader on the world stage. Especially when you have the sort of uncertainty that has surrounded the administration of US President, Donald Trump.>> When the time limit news broke, voices of dissent popped up all over social media.
However, those have since been scrubbed from the censored Chinese Internet and activists tell Reuters they've come under immense pressure to stay silent. Delegates and state media insist this is the will of the people and that the authority of the party must be maintained.>> Because of all the censorship and controls on what people can write and see in China.
It’s therefore very hard to gauge accurately exactly what kind of impact this has had on ordinary Chinese people and, to be honest, just how convinced ordinary Chinese people are.>> Term limits were only introduced 40-odd years ago after Mao to prevent one man rule. This is Xi's biggest step yet to return to it.
However, presidency isn't the most important job in China, that lies with the head of the party. The next years could see the rise of the Chairman Xi. Some analysts say, though, he's already so strong that titles don't really matter.