Chinese dissident: Even changing leaders won't change China

In this image made from a video, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, center, stands in front of a work during his exhibition in Sydney, Monday, March 12, 2018. Ai said Monday that it doesn't matter whether or not China has a change in leadership, the culture and the system will always remain the same. He launched an exhibition in Sydney to highlight the international refugee crisis. (Australia Broadcasting Corporation via AP)
In this image made from a video, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei speaks during his exhibition in Sydney, Monday, March 12, 2018. Ai said Monday that it doesn't matter whether or not China has a change in leadership, the culture and the system will always remain the same. He launched an exhibition in Sydney to highlight the international refugee crisis. (Australia Broadcasting Corporation via AP)

SYDNEY — Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei said Monday that it doesn't matter whether or not China has a change in leadership, the culture and the system will always remain the same.

Ai's comments came a day after China's rubber-stamp lawmakers passed a historic constitutional amendment abolishing a presidential two-term limit that will enable Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

"China has always been, you know, emperor state. ... So a change leader or not change leader, the system and as a culture always stays the same," Ai told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney, where he was launching an exhibition to highlight the international refugee crisis.

In 2011, Ai was detained by Chinese authorities for his outspoken views on human rights. Ai's passport was withheld for four years but was returned to him in July 2015. The artist now works from a studio in Germany and has traveled the world to document the plight of refugees and migrants.

The move to scrap term limits has crushed faint hopes for political reforms among China's embattled liberal scholars and activists, who now fear even greater repression.

China allows no political opposition in any form and has relentlessly persecuted independent groups seeking greater civic participation. Leading Chinese officials have repeatedly rejected any chance of adopting Western-style separation of powers or multiparty democracy.

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