Communist Party of China cleared the decks to let Xi stay in power by abolishing the term limit

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has moved to remove the provisions that the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” from the country’s Constitution. It will be revised at the upcoming parliamentary session next month, China’s official news agency said.

In effect, it implies that the Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is serving his second consecutive five-year term, will continue beyond 2023. Currently, the Constitution limits Xi, who became president in 2013, to two terms in that office, amounting to 10 years.

The announcement came after the influential 25-member Politburo met on Saturday. On Monday, the Central Committee of the CPC would assemble to review the proposed changes including personnel. The flurry of political activity would culminate in the March session of the National People’s Congress (NPC)-China’s parliament. The NPC would give final shape to major decisions taken at the twice- a- decade National Party Congress held in October 2017.

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party | Image: SCMP

Xinhua also reported the party proposed that Xi’s political theory “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” would be recorded into the constitution. Besides, the formation of the National Supervisory Commission, as a new super anti-graft agency as a constitutional entity was planned.
The proposed amendments would also authorize this new anti-corruption commission that Xi was pushing. The commission would expand the reach of corruption investigations, which up to now have mostly been conducted by a Communist Party agency acting largely beyond the law.

Deng Yuwen, the former editor of the Study Times newspaper affiliated with the Central Party School, said the proposed change was a strong signal that Xi planned to stay on.

“This is a very clear sign that the president will remain in office beyond the existing term limit. We don’t know if it could be life tenure at this stage,” Deng added.

SCMP reported that “Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London, said recent developments in democracies in the West may have provided some justification for the party to seek further stability and continuity. “Trump, Brexit, the rise of the extreme right and left again in polities throughout the democratic world … made domestic Chinese politics even more fixated on stability and on avoiding any kind of uncertainty and risk,” Brown said. “Xi is the symbolic figure at the centre of this, the person whose leadership everything hangs on,” SCMP added.

A small recap how the leadership functions in China:

“Xi Jinping is the most powerful figure in China’s political system, and his influence mainly comes from his position as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Xi is the core of the seven-member standing committee of the Politburo — they form the most inner circle of China’s governance structure.

While in theory, they make decisions by consensus, Xi is the core and not, as they say, the first among equals. But it’s not an absolute dictatorship as the other six are also important.

The seven members are in a 25-member Politburo, making up the pinnacle of leadership power in the Communist Party. Remember, all institutions in China, including the government, the courts and the military report to the party.
Xi, as the Chinese President, is the head of the state. But the head of the government is the Premier and the number-two in the party, Li Keqiang.”

Source: SCMP, Xinhua News, NY Times, the Hindu, Reuters.



The Kootneeti Team - Beijing Watch

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