Except if you are China’s President – and immortal.

At the annual parliamentary session on 5 March, China’s President Xi Jinping has pushed for the elimination of the ‘two consecutive term limit’ imposed on the President and the Vice-President in China’s constitution. Although the constitutional amendment must still be approved by at least two-thirds of the National People’s Congress, this elimination is all but confirmed. This amendment was first proposed by the Communist Party of China Central Committee last week (Feb 25) and is seen as potentially extending Xi’s presidency to more than two terms. Interestingly, Xi’s move coincides with the start of his second term – most had expected him to do so at the end of it.

 

How is the world taking it?

Mostly negative. Most aren’t pleased with this breakthrough in allowing Xi to remain in power indefinitely, especially when this rule was set by Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent the country from falling to another strong-man rule (remember Mao?). Many Chinese activists have criticised this “power grab” as “short-sighted”; former Chinese editor Li Datong even branded this a “move backward into history and planting the seed of chaos once again in China”.

In protecting their interests for constitutional reforms, Taiwan and Hong Kong expressed their disapproval, but good ol’ Trump praised Xi as a “great gentleman” and “the most powerful (Chinese) president in a hundred years”. He also remarked that he might have to “give this a shot someday” (was he trying to be funny?).

The bottomline is, this definitely means that Xi is planning to lead China beyond 10 years, allowing him to see out his long-term plans for China (e.g. One Belt One Road Initiative) which could be scuppered if another person helms the government. However, even if Xi turns out to be a good leader, it doesn’t mean that his successors will be, and if they manage to build another cult of personality, history may just repeat itself once more.

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