Xi Jinping’s rule shatters hopes for China’s liberalization

BEIJING (AP) — Many Western scholars who studied China believed that the opening to the outside world engineered by reformer Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s would pave the way for corresponding political freedoms.

Those hopes are quickly dissipating with the rise of party leader Xi Jinping, who many once thought would be the next great reformer.

Xi is now poised to rule indefinitely after China’s rubber-stamp legislature voted Sunday to eliminate presidential term limits.

A small but growing number of Western academics and government analysts who spent decades looking for signs that China was becoming a democracy now say those perceived markers may have been no more than a mirage.