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China Moves to Allow Xi to Stay in Power by Abolishing Term Limit

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President Xi Jinping of China at the Communist Party congress in Beijing last October. Current law restricts the president to two terms.

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How Hwee Young/European Pressphoto Agency

BEIJING — China’s Communist Party cleared the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power, perhaps indefinitely, by proposing that the nation’s Constitution be changed to abolish a two-term limit on the presidency.

The Communist Party Central Committee, a council of senior officials from the ruling party, “proposed to remove the expression that the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China ‘shall serve no more than two consecutive terms’ from the country’s Constitution,” the Xinhua News Agency said on its English-language website.

Since each term is five years in length, the Constitution had limited Mr. Xi, who became president in 2013, to 10 years in office.

The announcement was not immediately reported by Xinhua’s Chinese-language service or other Chinese-language news media in China, a development that was all the more puzzling because the Central Committee is not due to meet until Monday.

Even if prematurely announced, the move appears to be the most dramatic sign that Mr. Xi harbors ambitions to stay in power longer than his two immediate predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, both of whom stepped down after two terms.

It also confirmed that Mr. Xi has amassed enough power to rewrite the rules that constrained recent Chinese leaders, and that were aimed at preventing the reappearance of the cult of personality that had surrounded the People’s Republic’s founding father, Mao Zedong.

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