China’s Xi Poised for Perennial Power? Not So Fast
AP Photo/ Li Tao/XinhuaOpinion03:50 27.02.2018Get short URL
Chinese state media agency Xinhua published a short, two-sentence article on Sunday that has made waves around the world for how it may impact China’s political and economic future.
“The Communist Party of China Central Committee proposed to remove the expression that the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ‘shall serve no more than two consecutive terms’ from the country’s Constitution,” Xinhua reported February 25.
“The proposal was made public Sunday.” That’s it. That’s the whole article. There’s something to be said for Chinese efficiency. The two-sentence dispatch spurred the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which does not publish separate papers on Saturday and Sunday but instead publishes one “weekend edition,” to crank out a “review & outlook” story by late Sunday afternoon titled “Xi Jinping, President for Life.”
According to Jude Woodward, former policy adviser to Ken Livingstone’s London’s Mayor’s Office, Xi’s consolidation and preservation of power is not all that surprising, since he has “no obvious successor.”
While the story has been widely extrapolated to mean Xi is going to be the president of the People’s Republic of China until he dies, it’s worth noting that Xinhua states the amendment has merely been proposed, which is far different than finalization and implementation.
Further, it’s not at all obvious that the removal of term limits from the constitution ensures that Xi will have a permanent hold on power.
As Woodward explained to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Monday, the removal of term limits “doesn’t change the fact that [Beijing’s leader] must be agreed to by the Chinese Communist Party, and so, if Xi Jinping didn’t command support, his term wouldn’t be extended.”
Xi was slated to pass the baton after two five-year terms, which would see him leave office by 2023 at the latest. The Chinese leader is currently approaching the end of his first term and is due for re-election on May 5 when the country’s Parliament is expected to meet and formally sanction Xi’s continued rule as president of the PRC.