President Xi Jinping is all set to make his ‘long term’ impact on the Chinese politics. He recently established his full authority over the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) by incorporating his name in the party constitution. Now, the CPC plans to scrap term limits for the president in order to allow Xi to serve as president beyond 2023.
As per the current Constitution, the Chinese president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”. However, Xi has decided to ease the rule as soon as possible. The Chinese state media have reported that the proposal will be submitted to legislatures at the annual full session of the National People’s Congress, starting on March 5, and the Parliament will formally place President Xi in the same league as Mao Zedong, the founding father of modern China who remained the supreme commander till the last day of his life.
The 64-year-old president emerged as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao in the 1970s at twice-a-decade CPC Congress after his name and a political theory were added to the party constitution. The party also allowed him to serve as general secretary of the CPC for a second five-year term.
Willy Lam – the senior political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong Kong – believes that the absence of an apparent successor helps Xi become a cult figure in Chinese politics. “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,” he said. Lam also said: “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. For Xi, whatever he says is the law. There are no longer any checks and balances.”
Meanwhile, Beijing-based political analyst Hu Xingdou is of the opinion that President Xi may serve an extra five-year term or two in order to implement his plans. But, the Asian giant will not return to the era of lifetime tenure for heads of state, he added. It is to be noted that China abolished the lifetime tenure in 1982 by including term limits on officeholders in the Constitution.
The recent political development in China has confirmed that the Asian nation has failed to find a visionary and capable leader, like Xi, who could lead the country in the 21st century. The absence of a visionary leader encourages the current president to fulfil his longer-term ambitions.
However, a section of political experts believes that the CPC, under the leadership of President Xi, will destroy both the party and the state. They have strongly criticised the CPC in the Chinese social media – Weibo – for allowing the president to become the ‘most powerful’ leader. On Weibo, one wrote: “This time, I really feel I’m living in North Korea.” Hong Kong-based human rights activist Joshua Wong tweeted: “Emperor Xi’s era.”
Experts are of the opinion that the CPC has adopted the ‘North Korea’ model, as President Xi has become a ‘dictator’. The president loves power and he’s arranging his life around that (power). After Mao, no Chinese leader has become so powerful. Deng Xiaoping had stressed on collective leadership (responsibility) and his successors followed him. Former Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao remained in office for two terms each. After completing their terms, they smoothly transfer the power to their successors. However, President Xi has a ‘different’ plan. Some observers say that his decision to stamp his authority on the party-state system may backfire. The collective leadership has helped China emerge as the world’s second largest economy. Perhaps, President Xi is making a huge mistake by abandoning the practice.
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