With last month's vote to end presidential term limits, Chinese President Xi Jinping has the right to remain in office indefinitely. The measure was passed by China's government, but critics say it follows a pattern of President Xi tightening his grip on power.

"China has gone backwards at least 40 years," says Sharon Hom, executive director of the NGO Human Rights in China. She says the government has failed to learn the lesson from the Cultural Revolution that concentrated power in one leader will "inevitably lead to mass suffering and abuses".

Qinduo Xu, a senior fellow of the China-based Pangoal Institution, disagrees. "China's system is very different from the Western style," says Xu. He adds that the removal of presidential term limits is not a return to China's past, but rather a continuation of the progress and responsiveness of the Chinese political model.

When asked if President Xi has moved towards one-man rule, Xu says both the president's unanimous re-election by the National People's Congress and international polls show that Xi has a high level of support in the country.

Hom says China's economy is slowing and inequality is growing, and she questions whether those directly affected by policy choices can express their discontent within China. "It is a hostile, restrictive environment for any voice that is critical of Xi Jinping or of the party."

In this week's Arena, we debate whether the end of presidential term limits in China truly has popular support or is part of a troubling trend of unchecked power.

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Source: Al Jazeera News