Beijing — China’s Xi Jinping strode on to the leadership stage in 2012 to sunny predictions that he would usher in a new era of political reform. But after a stunning power grab, all bets are off. His path surprised allies and adversaries alike, culminating in Sunday’s historic vote by the Chinese parliament to abolish presidential term limits. Few had expected that the leader — whose own family suffered under the chaotic rule of Mao Zedong — would one day overthrow the system of orderly succession put in place to prevent the return of another all-powerful strongman. Quite the opposite: in a 2013 op-ed in the New York Times, journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote Xi would "spearhead a resurgence of economic reform and probably some political easing as well". "Mao’s body will be hauled out of Tiananmen … and Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning writer, will be released from prison." But Mao’s embalmed body is still there. Last year Liu became the first laureate to die in captivity si...

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