China Proposes Scrapping Presidential Term Limit

China Proposes Scrapping Presidential Term Limit

Kerry Wise
February 26, 2018

The decision to remove the constitutional restriction on presidential term limits suggests Chinese President Xi Jinping may want to turn what is essentially a ceremonial position into a role carrying much greater political heft, an observer familiar with party ideology says.

As long as there is no definite timeline for Xi's stay in office, nobody is seen opposing him. But already in autumn of a year ago, party leaders had indicated that Convention was nothing more than a convention, and could be disposed of quietly.

Xi's supporters argue that new leadership arrangements are needed to provide stability and continuity of leadership, so that Xi Jinping can fulfill his grand ambitions of leading China into a national renaissance, and new era of modernity, prosperity and power.

The ruling Communist Party of China has called for the removal of two-term limits for the office of president.

"Even the possibly of president for life is not a good development", said Fraser Howie, author of "Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundations of China's Extraordinary Rise". And the only position with constitutionally mandated limits is that of the president.

Signs that Xi would indeed attempt to remove these term limits have been visible in past years.

KUHN: Well, this was announced in state media on Sunday, and there's no explanation yet.

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The justification for this move comes from the idea that Xi has a grand vision for China that he alone can implement.

At least thousands of senior officials have been arrested or forced to retire with analysts pointing out that many were direct political adversaries.

China should stick to the organic unity of Party leadership, the running of the country by the people, and law-based governance, and should strengthen oversight to ensure compliance with the Constitution, Xi said.

China's parliamentary body, the National People's Congress (NPC), will hold the first session of its 13th five-year term starting March 5, and the proposal for the constitutional amendment could be among matters to be discussed. Over the past five years, Xi Jinping has been amassing power in his own hands.

There are indications that Chinese people who have observed an increase in repression of political speech and Western culture generally are alarmed by the possibility of an eternal President Xi Jinping. At the close of the congress, the party elevated five new officials to assist Xi on his second five-year term, but stopped short of designating an obvious successor to him. Attention at the plenum will also likely focus on Xi's pick to lead the Financial Stability Development Committee, which was created past year to tackle China's financial sector.

Xi also promised to build a "world-class" military by 2050, to challenge American influence around the world, from Latin America to the South China Sea.