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Constitutional Amendment Approved by the National People’s Congress

On 11 March, during the annual Two Sessions (lianghui), the National People’s Congress passed a number of historical constitutional amendments with 1,958 votes in favour, two against, and three abstentions. Among the 21 changes to the Constitution, the most controversial revision was the removal of term limits for the posts of President and Vice-President, which had been announced by Xinhua as early as 25 February. This amendment potentially paves the way for Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely (see Hurst’s op-ed in the current issue). The legislature also amended the Preamble of the Constitution to include ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ and the sentence ‘the leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics’—key tenets of what has officially become known as ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’—to promote the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the state. The amendments also pave the way for a major overhaul of the government, a move which will affect more than two dozens ministries and agencies with the aim of reinforcing Party control. Most importantly, the revision enshrines in the Constitution a powerful new watchdog, the National Supervision Commission. This new organ is equal in power to the State Council; it outranks all ministries as it reports directly to the Party centre. It will take charge of a national network of supervision commissions, linked with local anti-corruption offices. This will widen the scope of the Party’s authority over all civil servants, whether they are Party members or not, excluding the protections envisaged by Chinese civil law. EN

(Sources: Financial Times; South China Morning Post 1; South China Morning Post 2; South China Morning Post 3; Xinhua; The New York Times 1; The New York Times 2; Xinhua 1; Xinhua 2)

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