President Xi Jinping becomes China's leader for life

Additionally, clauses were included to give a legal framework to a new super anti-corruption department.

The amendment was sure to pass the country's rubber-stamp legislature, the National People's Congress, which voted 2,958 in favor, two opposed and three abstaining.

As voting got under way, President Xi led members of the seven-member all-powerful Politurbo Standing Committee in casting their ballots.

The amendment was one of several in a proposal that was voted on at a plenary meeting of the ongoing annual NPC session.

On the latest development, Chinese political commentator said, "I think that during the past 5 years, he has been trying a soft coup, including making the Politburo a mere figurehead".

Xi Jinping thought is the ideology approved by the Communist Party last October.

'We have to voice our opposition'.

The 64-year-old Xi, already hailed as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, last week gave a ringing endorsement to the proposed constitutional changes, calling them a reflection of the "common will of the party and the people".

He Guangliang from the southwestern province of Guizhou said it wasn't fair to draw comparisons with North Korea.

This monolithic political structure, however, could be a wild card for China's economy, which is grappling with slower growth and soaring debt, observers say.

But the official line aside, the removal of term limits is highly significant, dismantling one of the most effective checks on power in a country where citizens do not have the right to vote.

However the question was too sensitive for several legislators, who scurried away when asked about Xi being in office forever.

"Yet some people in the West insist otherwise, even though it is only through specious speculation that they claim to know better", the English-language paper said.

There are also names that the Chinese government does not want the president to be called. A total of 2,964 votes were cast.

The amendment also applies to the vice presidency, a largely ceremonial post.

Voting among the National People's Congress's almost 3,000 hand-picked delegates began in the mid-afternoon, with Mr Xi leading members of the Communist Party's seven-member all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee in casting their votes.

At the same time, he gained a measure of popularity among Chinese people through a relentless crackdown on corruption that has punished more than a million party officials, and sidelined potential rivals.

"We are increasingly confident that the key to China's path lies in upholding strong Party leadership and firmly following the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core", it said.

The draft amendment, including a revision regarding the President's term of office, was submitted to the first session of 13th NPC for deliberation on Monday.

  • Leroy Wright