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China to Drop Presidential Term Limit, Letting Xi Stay in Power

People walk past a poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping beside a street in Beijing on February 26, 2018. Xi Jinping's tightening grip on China had already earned the leader comparisons to Mao Zedong, but they came into even sharper focus after the party paved the way for him to assume the presidency indefinitely. (AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER)
China to Drop Presidential Term Limit, Letting Xi Stay in Power
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Chinese media say the Communist Party has proposed lifting term limits for the office of president from China’s Constitution. Under the proposal, party leader Xi Jinping could continue serving as president after the year 2023.

China’s official Xinhua news agency published a report on the “proposed constitutional amendment package” Sunday. It said the Communist Party of China (CPC) supported plans to drop the “two consecutive terms" limit to the offices of the President and Vice-President. Term limits have been part of the constitution since 1982.

The communist party also proposed adding “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” to the Constitution. This will make Xi the third Chinese leader to have such an honor. In the past, the constitution was amended to include Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory.

Xi is expected to be elected to a second five-year term as president at a meeting of the National People’s Congress. The proposals will likely be approved at that meeting, which opens on March 5.

Willy Lam is with the Chinese University in Hong Kong. He told the Associated Press, “Xi Jinping has finally achieved his ultimate goal when he first embarked on Chinese politics — that is, to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century.”

In 2012, Xi became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, chairman of the Politburo Standing Committee, and head of the country’s armed forces. He was elected to his first five-year term as president in March 2013.

Shortly after his election, Xi said, “I believe that realizing the great revival of the Chinese nation is the greatest dream of the Chinese nation in modern times.”

As China’s leader, Xi launched an anti-corruption campaign targeting powerful officials. He has increased defense spending and claimed sovereignty over a large part of the South China Sea. He also started the “Belt and Road” development program to build infrastructure-related projects in Asia, Africa and Europe.

China’s Communist Party has required leaders who are 68 or older to leave office. But the party has yet to name a successor to the 64-year-old “core leader” – another title given to Xi in 2016.

At the 19th Communist Party Congress last October, Xi promised that China would become a modern socialist country by 2035. He also said by 2050, it would be a leading world power.

Willy Lam suggested the party’s justification for removing term limits is that “China requires a visionary, capable leader to see China through this multi-decade grand plan.”

Hu Xingdou is a Beijing-based political commentator. He said while Xi Jinping might need an extra five-year term or two to carry out his plans, China is unlikely to return to lifetime tenure for heads of state.

Hu added that China has learned “lessons” from the unrest of the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Hai Do wrote this for Learning English with additional report from the AP. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

ultimateadj. the most extreme or best of its kind

embark - v. to make a start; to begin a trip

politburo n. the main policy-making committee of a Communist party

revival n. a return of strength or importance

sovereignty n. unlimited power over an area; the right of an to govern itself

infrastructuren. the system of public works; the personnel, buildings or equipment required for an activity

visionaryn. someone having an imagination or ideas

grandadj. very large or great

tenuren. the amount of time that a person holds a job or office

lesson – n. a reading or other exercise for a student; something learned by experience

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