Thu | Oct 18, 2018

China paves way for Xi Jinping to extend rule beyond 2 terms

Published:Monday | February 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this October 2017 photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping claps while addressing members of the media.

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 signalling Xi's willingness to break with tradition and centralise 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 office holders 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.