China President's Possible Indefinite Term Raises Concerns Among Citizens

China President's Possible Indefinite Term Raises Concerns Among Citizens

On Friday, China's ruling Communist Party put forth a proposal that seeks to do away with the constitutional clause that limits the President's and the Vice President's tenure to just two terms in the office.

"We must keep firmly in mind our sacred duties", said Hu Jintao upon announcing in 2012 that he would step down as China's president to make way for Xi Jinping, in what was only the second orderly transition of presidential power the country had experienced since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Or for as long as he lives. China adopted term limits in the 1990s in an attempt to avoid Mao-style cults of personality and impose stability and accountability.

Staying on would give Xi the chance to advance a 30-year plan to complete China's return to great-power status by the mid-century mark, when he'll be in his 90s. "But that's a decision that would be up to China", Sanders said. And his name and doctrines, referred to as "Xi Jinping Thought", have been written into the party constitution. If re-elected to a third term as president at the 20th party congress in 2022, Xi will be able to serve as Chinese head of state until 2028. "From anti-corruption campaign to comprehensively advancing the rule of law to profound economic restructuring, the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core has sturdily opened a new era for a hopeful China", The Global Times wrote.

Experts said this move had always been in the making.

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The comments, reported by the Kremlin news service but not by Chinese state media, went largely unnoticed at the time.

The hallmark of Xi's governance have been economic reforms, high rates of growth, strengthening of military, silencing of dissent and therefore democracy and heightened tensions with neighbours and other superpowers. The Global Times, the CCP's populist tabloid, said on Sunday that China needs "stable, strong and consistent leadership", especially for the "crucial period" of 2020 to 2035.

Xi has promised to make China's economy more productive by giving market forces a bigger role.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday that the proposal "was made in accordance with the new situation and the practice of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era".

In the South China Sea, Beijing has slowly chipped away at the status quo - a strategy known as "salami slicing" - by building military outposts on man-made islands, aggressively shadowing the US military's "freedom of navigation operations" and shooing away rivals' vessels from key fishing and strategic areas. Either ways, China's foreign policy misadventures under Xi will come with significant domestic costs, a price that the party may or may not be willing to pay.

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Some analysts see a potential upside in the short run: Now that lower-level officials can not be sure Xi will leave in 2022, they might be less likely to resist his ambitious agenda to reform health care, reduce poverty and develop high-tech industry. In effect, China may be positioning itself as a the next major power after the U.S. under Xi, but this is bound to invite more face-offs, resulting in frequent situations where China may have to back out or get involved in regional conflicts to assert its primacy.

Xi, however, holds all three positions. From November 6-8, 2017, former Politburo Standing Committee members Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli all penned People's Daily commentaries pledging support for Xi and his main initiatives. Article 84 stipulates that if the presidency is vacant, the vice president will succeed to the office of the president.

Predictably, Chinese state media is trumpeting Xi's move. It appears that the decision is based on a sort of consensus at least among the top leadership - and that Xi has managed to override any objections which might have been raised and thus it points to a qualitative strengthening of President Xi's power.

"Yes, on one hand, Xi Jinping clearly has some economic advisers who want to push ahead with economic reforms", said Barry Naughton, an economist at the University of California San Diego.

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