A National People's Congress deputy votes on an amendment to the Constitution on Sunday in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua
A Constitutional amendment that removes the two-term presidential limit was passed by national legislators on Sunday, a move that political advisors believed would strengthen Party leadership and further the country's social, political, diplomatic and military reforms.
At a plenary meeting of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) on Sunday, 2,958 national legislators voted in favor of Constitutional changes, with two against and one abstention.
The amendment removed the two-term presidential limit, added Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and listed the supervisory commissions as a new type of State organ into the Constitution.
It also added "the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics" to the Constitution.
This was an important agenda accomplished at the first session of the 13th congress, Shen Chunyao, chairman of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said at a press conference on Sunday.
Enhanced Party leadership is one of the highlights of the changes, Vice Minister of Justice Liu Zhenyu, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told the Global Times.
The amendment was made in a "legal and rational manner" and "meets the public will," Liu said.
The newly added part about the supervisory commissions shows the Party's determination to further anti-corruption efforts with institutional changes, he added.
No political turmoil
Asked whether removing presidential term limits would lead to political turmoil in China, Shen said that wouldn't happen. The change had a "wide and solid" political, legal and social basis, Shen said.
The change was a significant move that reinforced the trinity of the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, he said.
The trinity leadership pattern has proved successful and effective in China. It was also a necessary and most appropriate form for such a big country and Party, he added.
"A consistent expression on the term of China's Party, State and military head is beneficial to the stability of the country's core leadership," Zhang Hongzhi, a member of CPPCC National Committee and deputy director of the Party Literature Research Center of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times.
If the term limits on the president stayed, then China might have a different Party and State leader at the same time, which was unhealthy for leadership stability and placed more challenges on the country's diplomatic activities, Zhang explained.
Synching all three posts makes them consistent with each other. Before the amendment, the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission had no term limits, but the president was limited to two terms.
Removing term limits for the president represented a better Constitutional solution than limiting the Party and military chief to two terms each, Cheng Enfu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a deputy to the 13th NPC, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Amending the Constitution should be decided by the situation facing the nation and the Party, he said.
China did not need to follow Western political patterns or set two-term limits like the US, said Cheng, also a deputy to the 11th and 12th NPCs.
If the country has a strong and wise leadership, it can serve more than two terms to solve problems and make the country better, he noted.
"The removal of term limits does not mean a president can stay in the position for life or every president can serve longer than two terms," he said.
China has unfinished economic, political, diplomatic and military reforms and the country needs a determined and innovative State leader to accomplish such goals, said Cheng.
For instance, China still faces challenges to improve the distribution of social wealth, and to build a modern and powerful military to safeguard long-term stability and security, Cheng said, adding the past five years' progress has proved Xi a good choice to lead the nation.
Newspaper headline: Constitutional change passed