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China passes law to allow President Xi Jinping to rule for life
Chinese President Xi Jinping votes to allow himself to rule indefinitely (Picture: AFP)

Chinese politicians have voted to abolish presidential term limits paving the way for leader Xi Jinping to rule for life.

At today’s National People’s Congress meeting in the Great Hall of the People delegates voted 2,958 to 2 to endorse the constitutional amendment.

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Since 1982 Chinese presidents have been limited to two terms in office after former leader Deng Xiaoping brought in the rule to prevent a return of a lifelong dictatorship which Mao Zedong enjoyed from 1949 until his death in 1976.

In the final ten years of Mao’s reign, millions of Chinese people were murdered or died due to famine under his infamous Cultural Revolution.

Xi JinPing had been due to step down in 2023 but during last October’s Communist Party Congress he refused to anoint a successor.

Today’s vote was effectively a rubber stamping exercise, as 3,000 delegates voted overwhelmingly to support Xi.

FILE - In this Saturday, March 3, 2018, file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. With China's rubber-stamp parliament voting to allow President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely, recent history offers sobering lessons to the country's ruling Communist Party. For millennia, one-man rule for life was standard under kings and emperors, but from Zimbabwe to Iraq and North Korea, modern autocrats often blunder into economic stagnation, political dysfunction and war. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrates the decision to scrap presidential term limits (Picture: AP)

Mr Xi became president in 2012 and quickly gained a reputation for fighting corruption, punishing more than a million party members.

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

Xi has become a familiar figure on the world stage, and has sanctioned huge infrastructure investment in Africa and Europe.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Zhang Dejiang after a vote on a constitutional amendment lifting presidential term limits, during third plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Chairman of the NPC Zhang Dejiang congratulates Xi Jinping as the vote is announced (Picture: Reuters)

There has been no debate in Chinese media about the scrapping of presidential term limits but several critics did manage to send their concerns to some delegates.

Former state newspaper editor Li Datong told the BBC: ‘I couldn’t bear it any more. I was discussing with my friends and we were enraged.

‘We have to voice our opposition.’

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