Abolishing presidential limits on Chinese leaders is a signal at home and abroad that president Xi Jinping intends to remain a leader for life.
Xi came to power in 2012 and is 64 years old. Barring ill-health and other unforeseen events, he could remain at the helm of the China’s government for two decades or more.
Although his power grab was voted through by the Communist party’s annual congress in Beijing, social media has been buzzing with protests as frantic censors have tried to stem the flood of protests.
Liberals fear his continued leadership will strike at freedom of speech and push the country into dictatorship where dissidents and opponents of the regime live under a cloud of fear for their lives.
Others say China is an authoritarian state and nothing much has changed by Xi cementing his rule.
Censors ban the letter ‘n’
For some reason the English consonant ‘n’ was included in a list of banned words and phrases blocked on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.
The government has not commented why ‘n’ was blacklisted, but the assumption is blocking the character stopped people using terms like ‘Xi could be in power for n years’, where n is a variable for a number.
The list also barred the titles of the George Orwell books 1984 and Animal Farm – which suffered a double ban as ‘A*imal Farm’ and a triple ban when discussing the key character, the pig ‘*apoleo*’ (Napoleon).
Other casualties were anyone named A**ie (Annie), anyone talking about their *a**y (nanny) and conversations about ta**i* (tannin).
The ban was lifted after a while.
The censors also blue pencilled the words disagree, Xi Zedong – a mash of the names Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong, shameless, lifelong, immortality and Yuan Shikai, a warlord who battled to restorer the Chines monarchy.
Beijing slammed Western media for an overzealous reaction to making Xi leader for life, claiming the response was ‘hysterical’, claiming reporters bad-mouthed the regime and hoped the strong government would crumble.
The government might also cut China off from the rest of the world if criticism persists at such a high level, a spokesman warned.