Xi Jinping to become leader for life

China's National People's Congress has voted by a large majority to abolish limits on presidential terms - a move that will allow Xi Jinping to rule for the rest of his life. Observers note that this constitutional amendment is all the more ominous now that China is no longer the poor, insignificant country it was in Mao's day.

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El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

World's biggest country living under dictatorship

The application of Maoist methods in the era of superpowers poses a threat to China and the rest of the world, El Periódico de Catalunya fears:

“No one has amassed this much power in China since the times of Mao Zedong. ... The amended law not only prohibits any form of dissidence but also any discrepancy. And this at a time when China is no longer the poor, internationally irrelevant, war-torn country it was in Mao's day. Today China is a major power in direct competition with the US. ... The changes Xi is justifying by pointing to the need for a national renaissance condemn the most populous country in the world to living under a dictatorship that is dangerous not just for the Chinese but also for their neighbours.”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

An unquenchable thirst for power

US President Trump applauded Xi Jinping for the constitutional amendment at a recent event. That's frightening, writes Murat Yetkin, editor-in-chief of Hürriyet Daily News:

“Despite China already not being a multi-party democracy, Xi wanted to get rid of all remaining checks and balances on his rule. Trump apparently wants that too. ... I believe many world leaders would like to repeat Xi's steps but hesitate to do so. Indeed, across the world in recent years there has been a rise in populist politics, which goes hand in hand with the rise of nationalism, religious fanaticism and xenophobia, which at its sharpest slips into the politics of supremacy and fascism. ... The thirst for unlimited power among already powerful world leaders is actually one sign of that.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Dictatorship with a shimmering facade

China is and remains a dictatorship, Jyllands-Posten sighs:

“It's easy to forget that China is one of the cruellest police states in the world. ... Against a backdrop of glistening skyscrapers and luxury cars the oppression of regime critics has intensified. The Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died in 2017 after long years of imprisonment. Was there a wave of protests? Hardly. Xi has reminded us that China is ruled as Denmark was in the era of absolutism. He wants to abolish the presidential term limit aimed at preventing a new Mao. Ceausescu will send him a nod of approval from his grave, but no one else will.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Authoritarianism as progress

Le Temps describes how the situation in China differs from authoritarian developments in Russia, Turkey or Egypt:

“Beijing is taking it a step further by casting this regression as human progress. ... In the eyes of the CPC the failure of democracy is a foregone conclusion, damned as it is by short-term strategies and populism. Trump is seen as proof of this. The future belongs to pyramid political systems that are described as more stable and are more predictable from an economic point of view.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

China needs a stable leadership

It's a mistake to believe that Xi is just trying to secure power for himself, the state-owned news agency Ria Novosti comments:

“The reality is more complex. China is in a highly dangerous transitional phase - in every respect. From the economy (where the booming growth potential is coming to an end and new models for development are needed) to geopolitics (its superpower status requires ever stronger confirmation). Under these circumstances a fixed state leadership has nothing to do with personal whim but is an objective and vital necessity.”