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China Paves way for Xi Jinping to Extend Rule Beyond 2 Terms

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BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party has proposed scrapping term limits for the country’s president, the official news agency said Sunday, appearing to lay the groundwork for party leader Xi Jinping to rule as president beyond 2023.

The party’s Central Committee proposed to remove from the constitution the expression that China’s president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms,” the Xinhua News Agency said.

“Xi Jinping has finally achieved his ultimate goal when he first embarked on Chinese politics — that is to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century,” said Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, referring to the founder of communist China.

Xi, 64, cemented his status as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao in the 1970s at last year’s twice-a-decade Communist Party congress, where his name and a political theory attributed to him were added to the party constitution as he was given a second five-year term as general secretary.

It was the latest move by the party signaling Xi’s willingness to break with tradition and centralize power under him. Xi has taken control of an unusually wide range of political, economic and other functions, a break with the past two decades of collective leadership.

“What is happening is potentially very dangerous because the reason why Mao Zedong made one mistake after another was because China at the time was a one-man show,” Lam said. “For Xi Jinping, whatever he says is the law. There are no longer any checks and balances.”

Xi is coming to the end of his first five-year term as president and is set to be appointed to his second term at an annual meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament that starts March 5. The proposal to end term limits will likely be approved at that meeting.

Term limits on officeholders have been in place since they were included in the 1982 constitution, when lifetime tenure was abolished.

Political analysts said the party would likely seek to justify the proposed removal of the presidential term limit by citing Xi’s vision of establishing a prosperous, modern society by 2050.

“The theoretical justification for removing tenure limits is that China requires a visionary, capable leader to see China through this multi-decade grand plan,” Lam said.

“But the other aspect of it could just be Mao Zedong-like megalomania; he is just convinced that he is fit to be an emperor for life,” he said.

Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political commentator, said … (read more)

via AP

 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, Russia, July 4, 2017. (Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool/Reuters)

 

Over at National Review, John Fund writes:

Both China and Russia end limits on arbitrary power. We should not follow suit.

It took Xinhua, the official news agency of China, only 36 words to send a chill down the spines of millions of people, in China and elsewhere: an announcement that the Communist Party will toss away the nation’s 35-year-old limit that its president and vice president may serve only two terms. It almost certainly means that President Xi Jinping, 64, plans to remain in power for the rest of his life.

“China does not need another Mao, but it’s going to get one anyway,” Gordon Chang, a noted China analyst and a Daily Beast columnist, told me. “God help us all, Chinese and others.”

Chang reminded me that after Mao Zedong’s bloody and ruthless 27 years of one-man rule, which ended with his death in 1976, reformers vowed not to take chances that one person could monopolize power again. Deng Xiaoping and other survivors of the Cultural Revolution, including the father of Xi Jinping, sought to limit arbitrary power. They set a limit of two five-year terms on the presidency and vice presidency, and safeguards to ensure that major decisions would be made by a collective leadership.

Since he first took office, Xi has consistently worked to centralize his authority. Anti-corruption campaigns have carefully targeted political rivals and driven them out of office. He has waived informal retirement-age requirements so that Wang Qishan, his right-hand man, can stay in office. Xi’s portrait hangs everywhere in the country, in a clear effort to create a cult of personality. Along with putting an end to term limits, the 205-member Central Committee of the Communist Party has also announced that it will insert “Xi Jingping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” a 14-point basic policy plan, into the nation’s constitution. It’s as if President Trump tried to add the tenets of The Art of the Deal to our governing document.

All of this amounts to a slow-motion coup against the safeguards that Communist reformers set up in the 1980s … (read more)

Source: National Review

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