On Sunday, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) removed the two-term limit on the presidency, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to potentially hold onto power indefinitely. The decision was made in a nearly unanimous vote, with only two delegates voting against the change.
Xi Jinping, who assumed the presidency in 2013, was set to step down in 2023, after serving two five-year terms. However, with the term limit abolished, he is now free to run for a third term in 2023 and potentially beyond.
The move is a significant departure from the practice of limiting leaders to two terms, which was instituted after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. The term limit was seen as a safeguard against the return of the cult of personality that characterized Mao’s rule.
Why was the term limit abolished?
The decision to abolish the term limit was met with both praise and criticism. Supporters of Xi Jinping say that he has been an effective leader who has strengthened China’s economy and restored its place as a global power. Critics, on the other hand, argue that the move represents a dangerous consolidation of power and could lead to a return to authoritarianism.
Some also fear that the move could have broader implications for China’s political system. With the term limit gone, there is no clear mechanism for transferring power and ensuring a peaceful transition of leadership. This could lead to instability and uncertainty in the future.
The NPC’s decision to remove the term limit was part of a package of constitutional amendments that were approved on Sunday. The amendments also include a provision that elevates the role of the Communist Party in China’s political system, placing it above the state and the military.
The move to elevate the party’s role is part of Xi Jinping’s broader push to strengthen the party’s control over all aspects of Chinese society. Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that has targeted both high-level officials and low-level bureaucrats. He has also increased censorship and cracked down on dissent, including the arrest of human rights activists and journalists.
What will its impact be?
The decision to abolish the term limit and elevate the party’s role is likely to have far-reaching implications for China’s political system and its role in the world. Some experts say that it could lead to a more assertive foreign policy and a greater willingness to challenge the United States and other Western powers.
Others, however, warn that the move could lead to instability and unrest, particularly if economic growth slows or if there is a major crisis. They point to the example of the Soviet Union, where the abolition of term limits and the concentration of power in the hands of a few leaders ultimately led to the collapse of the regime.
The decision to remove the term limit has also been criticized by human rights groups, who say that it represents a further erosion of basic freedoms in China. They point to the arrest and detention of dissidents, the suppression of minority rights, and the censorship of the internet and social media.
Despite the concerns, however, the decision to abolish the term limit and elevate the party’s role was met with overwhelming support from the NPC. With Xi Jinping now free to serve as president for as long as he likes, the world will be watching to see how he uses his newfound power and what implications it will have for China and the rest of the world.