- THE KOREAN TIMES - Mar 3, 2018 -
Frank Ching -
The decision by President Xi Jinping to end term limits for himself returns China to strongman rule, a style of government that many hoped had died with Mao Zedong in 1976. It also pits him directly against Deng Xiaoping's political reforms, aimed at preventing the concentration of too much power in one man.
Mao was the leader of China from the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 until his death in 1976. He had no respect for institutions and, in fact, abolished the presidency in the 1960s. China had no president from the late 1960s until the early 1980s.
It wasn't until the promulgation of the 1982 Constitution that the presidency was revived. That Constitution also saw the introduction of term limits.
Xi is now amending it to give himself unlimited terms.
Actually, the presidency is a ceremonial office without real power. Xi's power stems from his position as general secretary of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the central military commission, two positions without term limits. But, when dealing in foreign affairs, it helps to have a presidential hat as well.
As the spokesman for the National People's Congress, Zhang Yesui, explained at a press conference, Sunday, ending term limits on the presidency is in line with the party charter.
Moreover, he said, "It is conducive to uphold the authority of the central committee of the party with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, and also unified leadership."
So this is a move to strengthen Xi and to prevent the emergence of rivals.
It is not a move against term limits generally. The two-term constraint on the premier, Li Keqiang, continues to apply.