China Communist Party proposes removing presidential term limits

Illustration by Nilanjan Das
Illustration by Nilanjan Das
Author

26 February, 2018

The Chinese Communist Party has proposed that the two-term limit be lifted.

At the same event, Xi pledged to continue his anti-corruption campaign that has made him many powerful enemies over the past five years.

Zhang Lifan, a historian and political commentator says the move paves the way for Xi to stay in office well beyond his second five-year term, how long is uncertain.

"The reality remains that Xi is in a strong position and can get what he desires - the presidency beyond 2022 - rather than limit himself to get what he needs to stay in power".

"I don't see any reasonable challenges for him", said Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing who formerly taught at Tsinghua University.

The move helped prevent political power from becoming too concentrated in the hands of a single leader but was also blamed for policy indecision that led to growing ills such as worsening pollution, corruption and social unrest.

Next week, the party's central committee will hold a three-day plenum in Beijing that is expected to further strengthen Mr Xi's position by installing his allies as central bank governor and to lead the banking watchdog.

The announcement, carried by state news agency Xinhua, gave few details.

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The central committee has also proposed including inserting "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" into the constitution.

The proposed change, which would also apply to the vice-president, will be submitted to legislators at the annual full session of the National People's Congress starting March 5. He was also given the customary second term as party general secretary, a job which does not have a formal term limit.

"Titles don't matter as much in China as they do in the West".

Officially there is no limit on his tenure as the party and military chief, although a maximum 10-year term is the norm. "Any rival will think he will be almighty".

A seven-man leadership committee unveiled a year ago included no potential successor, raising the prospect that Xi intends to govern beyond his second term. Wang, 69, stepped down from a party position previous year because of his age. At the same time, the reputation of China will suffer if an all-encompassing leader imposes his thoughts and ideology on the people of this nation. Greater stability was sought after the upheavals of Mao's era and then Deng Xiaoping's failed efforts to engineer a smooth succession.

Mao, for example, was referred to as "lingxiu", but Xi's two immediate predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, were not.

Xi's strongman style has been compared to that of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Xi has evidently been working diligently to clear the way for a third presidential term. Xi has met stiff resistance from India, which objects to China illicitly building roads on disputed border territories, and the Trump administration, which has warned the globe that China uses "predatory" lending and economic negotiations to colonize developing economies.


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