The decision to scrap term limits for China’s president, Xi Jinping, pierces the veil of Chinese politics and the chinese leader will be allowed to reign forever.
Beijing, Feb.26.– The decision announced on February 25th to scrap term limits for China’s president, Xi Jinping, pierces the veil of Chinese politics. It reveals that, at a time when the ruling Communist Party is presenting China to the world as a modern, reliable and responsible state, capable of defending globalisation, the internal political system that the party monopolises is premodern, treacherous, inward-looking and brutal. It also shows that Chinese leaders’ own attempts to make the party otherwise have not got far.
Those attempts began in the 1980s under Deng Xiaoping, then the country’s paramount leader. In order to encourage predictability and institutional stability after the chaos of the last years of Mao Zedong, Deng introduced a series of reforms which stressed rules and norms, instead of strongman decision-making. The reforms included mandatory retirement ages and term limits for high-ranking politicians. The constitution of 1982 says the president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”.
The just-announced proposal by the party’s Central Committee, which has 200-odd members, would get rid of this requirement. The recommendation will be approved at a meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, which starts on March 5th.
Mr Xi has already turned his back on other Deng-era reforms. In 1980 Deng warned against concentrating too much power in one person, said the country needed to distinguish more clearly between the role of the party and that of the government, and talked about the need to “solve the problem of succession in leadership”. Mr Xi has taken more positions of authority than any of his predecessors since Mao ...
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