TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After lawmakers in China's rubber stamp congress on Sunday (March 11) removed presidential term limits, thus enabling Xi Jinping to possibly serve for life, some Chinese netizens have decried the move as a return to the Qing Dynasty.
Yesterday, 2,958 out of 2,964 members of China's National People's Congress in Beijing voted in approval of a package of constitutional amendments that included the removal of a restriction limiting the president to two terms only, a system put in place by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 as an attempt to prevent a repeat of the brutal, lifelong dictatorship of Mao Zedong.
In a rare sign of dissent in the tightly controlled communist country, many Chinese netizens spoke out against the move online, keeping China's legions of censors extra busy trying to take the posts down as soon as they surfaced.
On Weibo (China's version of Twitter), some dissenting posts made it past the censors, if only temporarily, with one writing "we're over," while another typed "we are back in the Qing Dynasty," reported AFP.
Independent Beijing-based political commentator Zhang Lifan said, "This marks the biggest regression in China's legal system since the reform and opening-up era of the 1980s," reported Associated Press.
Hu Jia, a Beijing based activist, described the amendment as "illegal," according to AFP. Hu called out Xi's hypocrisy in calling for the people to obey the constitution, while he used it to make himself immune to it. "He used the constitution as the ultimate legal weapon that binds officials and all citizens," said Hu.
Though the top cadres in China claim that the removal of term limits for Xi was called for by the "the masses," no such referendum by the ordinary citizens of China had been put forward. In fact, the amendment was kept a secret until state-run media revealed it on Feb. 25, one week before the congress was to convene.
Since the proposal of amendment was first made public, China's censorship army has been working in overdrive to block terms such as "I disagree," "emperor,"and even images of the cartoon character Winnie the Pooh, as his portly figure had humorously been compared to the chubby bear.
Chinese students studying abroad in the Unites States and other countries are speaking out against the power grab of President Xi Jinping with a campaign entitled #NotMyPresident and also using the slogans and hash tag #IDISAGREE (#我不同意). The campaign can be followed at the twitter account @STOPXIJINPING.