Opinion: China′s Xi Jinping — the man who decides the fate of billions | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 20.03.2018
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Opinion: China's Xi Jinping — the man who decides the fate of billions

China made a series of historic decisions at its 13th National People's Congress in Beijing. Not only will President Xi Jinping be able to rule indefinitely, he is more powerful than ever, says DW's Philipp Bilsky.

It was one of the longest National People's Congresses in years. Representatives from around the country met in Beijing for more than two weeks, and they had a lengthy agenda. Among other things, members of China's pretend-parliament rubber-stamped the most comprehensive restructuring of the country's state apparatus in decades. A major element thereof was a substantial reduction in the number of government agencies and ministries in an attempt to make the bureaucracy leaner and more efficient. China's government, with its millions of administrators, is not only one of the world's largest, it is also one of the most unwieldy.

Philipp Bilsky App

Philipp Bilsky heads DW's Chinese service

One single person stood at the focal point of the entire affair: Chinese President Xi Jinping. And he can be supremely satisfied with the way the Congress progressed. In an historic move, the People's Congress did away with the existing presidential term limits which had previously stipulated that the post could only be filled by one individual for two, five-year terms. Only two representatives voted against the measure, three abstained and one vote was declared invalid. With that, Xi can theoretically exercise indefinite rule.

Moreover, the "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" was officially entered into the preamble of the Chinese constitution. That means people criticizing Xi in the future could be accused of violating the constitution. And Xi was also handed a powerful new tool — which he can use, among other things, to attack opponents — in the form of an anti-graft body. The so-called National Supervisory Commission will be tasked with fighting corruption and lack of discipline, independent of courts and state prosecutors.

Observers already fear the Chinese president could lose touch with reality in light of the staggering powers he now wields. It is clear that no mechanisms remain in place to curb such a development. Nor do any exist to stop one man from determining the fate of a billion Chinese citizens in the future. Many people considered Xi Jinping the most powerful man in the world before the National People's Congress convened. Now, he has undoubtedly attained that status.

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