By Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers

New York Times News Service

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping set China on course to follow his hard-line authoritarian rule far into the future Sunday, when the national legislature lifted the presidential term limit and gave constitutional backing to expanding the reach of the Communist Party.

Under the red-starred dome of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress, the party-controlled legislature, voted almost unanimously to approve an amendment to the Constitution to abolish the term limit on the presidency, opening the way for Xi to rule indefinitely.

The amendment was among a set of 21 constitutional changes approved by the congress, which included passages added to the Constitution to salute Xi and his drive to entrench party supremacy.

Xi is using his formidable power to dismantle parts of the political order set in place in the 1980s and 1990s by Deng Xiaoping, who led China on a path of economic opening and liberalization.

Xi “has shown the world that he can scrap decades of institutional building with hardly any public dissent from the elite,” Victor Shih, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, who studies elite Chinese politics, said.

Next weekend, the congress is expected to continue that show of support for Xi by voting him into a second five-year term as president, along with electing a new lineup of government officials.

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