June 22, 2018

China suggests removal of constitutional clause on presidential service limits

26 February 2018, 09:17 | Simon Arnold

China Poised to Eliminate Presidential Term Limits

China's President Xi Jinping claps after his speech as he and other new Politburo Standing Committee members meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

China's ruling party is considering scrapping term limits for the president and vice president, it announced on Sunday. A proposal to remove the limit was submitted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the party in control of the one-party political system. However, he is going to be elected as a president again on March 5 2018.

"(Xi) would then ensure that his constitutional reform is adopted without opposition", said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, China politics specialist at Hong Kong Baptist University. "So removal of the section of the clause about the presidency in the Constitution is serving the most important and fundamental national interest and the Party's historic mission". "I don't think there is any other way to read it other than the four-decade long project that Deng Xiaoping initiated to set hard term limits on power to make sure that a Mao figure never came back is being dismantled", Jude Blanchette, an expert on Chinese politics from the United States research group Conference Board, told The Guardian. "Getting rid of it is not good!"

Xi Jinping, as the South China Morning Post notes, holds all those titles, and "president" is now the weakest of the three (the other offices also do not come with term limits).

Xi will be 69 when the next Communist Party congress convenes in 2022. But many analysts believe he wants to stay in office longer.

Already President Xi holds all the levers of State as General Secretary of the CPC and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Therefore, the CCP should not rubber-stamp the whims of Xi because China's modernization will be threatened by power concentration being in the hands of a long-lasting leader. It has not been used since.

With Sun out of the way, the only remaining contenders for Xi's job were Sun's replacement in Chongqing, Chen Min'er, and Guangdong Province's party chief Hu Chunhua.

Although not final yet, Al Jazeera's correspondent, Divya Gopalan, said the change is very likely to happen. Here what matters is whether you are the emperor.

"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. Distinct from the standard usage of "lingdao" for leader, "lingxiu" evokes grander, nearly spiritual, connotations.

Social media users who have dared to compare his round mien to that of the affable Winnie the Pooh have found their posts quickly deleted, and a man who referred to him as "Steamed Bun Xi" - a knock at his breakfast publicity stunt - was jailed for two years.

In a Sunday commentary on its WeChat account, state television said: "The people love the people's "lingxiu"!", above a picture of Xi being greeted by an adoring crowd in Sichuan province earlier this month. The party has been laying the groundwork for Xi not to have to go. Officials who have reached the age of 68 or older at the time of the congress customarily retire.

Reports that China was discussing changes to the constitution came out in December, but there was no word on what the country was planning to change.

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