Xi Jinping could stay in power indefinitely with the removal of the presidential term limits.
Under the Constitution as it currently stands, China’s formidable ruler Xi Jinping would be replaced as head of state in 2023 — after the completion of his two successive five-year terms.
It has been that way since Deng Xiaoping designed the modern leadership framework 40 years ago.
But that doesn’t work for the 64-year-old, who is widely considered this generation’s Mao Zedong. He is gunning to maintain his grip on power beyond his second term, which begins this year.
And he has the backing of his ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), with the group’s 200-strong Central Committee recommending the removal of an expression in the Constitution saying China’s president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms,” according to an announcement in the state-run Xinhua News Agency on Sunday night.
The proposed change will be submitted to legislators at the annual full session of the rubber-stamp National People’s Congress starting March 5. And with parliament brimming with representatives loyal to the CPC, it will not be blocked.
“I think he will become emperor for life and the Mao Zedong of the 21st century”, Willy Lam, politics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told AFP.
“If his health permits, he wants to serve 20 years, which would mean until 2032 as secretary general of the party, and 2033 as state president.”
Bill Bishop, the publisher of the Sinocism newsletter, said the CPC is “Xi’s Party”, and as long as he is alive there will be no challenge to his leadership.
“The NPC (National People’s Congress) will provide the institutional framework of the state to allow Xi, so long as he is alive and the Communist Party is running China, to be the most important and powerful person in China for life,” he wrote.
“In this new Xi Era the world must learn to deal [with] the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, while China itself is now the strongest it has been in centuries, with plans to become even more economically, militarily and culturally powerful.”