China votes to let Xi Jinping stay President

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping. Photo credit: Getty

The country's largely ceremonial parliament has overwhelmingly voted in support of a controversial constitutional change, that enables Mr Xi to remain in power indefinitely.

Only two of the nearly three thousand delegates voted against it.

It confirms his status as the country's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong died more than 40 years ago.

The amendments also include inserting Mr Xi's political theory into the constitution, something that was already added to the party charter in October at the end of a party congress, a feat no other leader since Mr Mao had managed while in office. Additionally, clauses were included to give a legal framework to a new super anti-corruption department.

Reporters were briefly ushered from the main hall in the Great Hall of the People as delegates filled in their ballot papers, but allowed in to see them placing the papers, one by one, into large red ballot boxes around the room.

Mr Xi cast his vote first, on the podium at the front of the hall, followed in turn by the other six members of the party's elite Standing Committee, which runs China.

The room erupted into loud applause when the result of the vote was passed, though Mr Xi did not address parliament.

The limit of two five-year presidential terms was written into China's constitution in 1982 after Mao's death six years earlier by Deng Xiaoping, who recognized the dangers of one-man rule and the cult of personality after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and instead espoused collective leadership.

Speaking later to reporters, Shen Chunyao, chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of parliament's standing committee, dismissed concerns the move could risk a return to strongman rule or lead to political turmoil or infighting.

"As for the assumptions, conjecture and stretched situations in your question, I think that does not exist," Mr Shen said.

In the past nine decades of the party's history it has overcome hardships and resolved major problems, including orderly leadership transitions and keeping the party and country's vitality and long-term stability, he added.

"In the nearly 40 years of reform and opening up, we have successfully established, upheld and expanded the political development road of socialism with Chinese characteristics," Mr Shen said.

"So, going forward the road we are on will definitely be longer and wider, and the future brighter and brighter."

Reuters / Newshub.