On March 11, China’s 3,000-strong rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, voted to remove constitutional term limits on the presidency, setting the table for Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely beyond 2022. Only two lawmakers voted against the move. On March 17, the congress approved the biggest overhaul of the government in decades, including the removal of eight ministries and seven agencies. Several other state entities, including some long seen as largely untouchable, saw their powers dramatically reduced.
These aren’t just cosmetic changes. Rather, they will have substantive implications for the ability of Xi and his lieutenants to transform the bureaucracy from something Chinese leaders have spent inordinate amounts of time fighting into something he can use to implement his grand plans for China’s future. More than anything, they dramatically tighten the Communist Party’s control over the state, further undoing the very system t