Presidential Term Limits Abolished

Kia Huang - 1B Computer
Posted on: March 11, 2018

In 1982, after the chaotic era of the Cultural Revolution, Deng XiaoPing and the Communist Party of China drafted up a new constitution that restricted the president and vice president to a limit of “no more than two consecutive terms.” They forced a political shift, knowing too well the result of a president in lifelong tenure who had built a cult of personality. Since then, the governance of the People’s Republic has been bureaucratic, operating in most aspects within the rule of law, with collective leadership at the higher echelons.

Current President Xi JinPing, from the beginning, was considered to be a much different leader than his predecessors. He rose to power in 2012 under a promise to eradicate corruption within the party and regain public support. As he punished more than a million party members underneath this justification, hushed political commentary of the time questioned whether he was simply using this purge as a method to eliminate possible political rivals.

His next drastic step was taken during October of last year as he introduced the 6 members of his politburo for his next term as President. Political outlets noted that, firstly, none of the 6 could be considered a potential rival, or even an equal. More importantly, Xi did not include a younger leader who would be trained as the successor to the position, an unwritten convention credited for relatively stable leadership changes. Xi himself was on the politburo of Hu JinTao before his presidency, and Hu on the politburo of Jiang ZeMin. At the same time, Xi was elevated to the same status as Mao ZeDong when the Communist Party’s congress enshrined his ideology of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” into the Chinese constitution.

On March 11, 2018, the Communist Party voted overwhelmingly for a plan to abolish presidential term limits, one proposed two weeks earlier by President Xi JinPing himself, marking an end to this longtime system and beginning what many consider to be a new era in Chinese politics. The official party stance is that a restriction on his term as presidency is unreasonable as his two other major posts (party leader as well as military chairman) do not have any similar limits. Keeping this trinity of roles gives Xi immense control, and he has expressed in the past that his mission to “rejuvenate China” and restore it to the center of the world would take more than the decade that term limits would allow him.

The future for China was uncertain from the beginning of Xi’s term, as he produced plenty of surprises. Whether he intends to stay on for a couple of more terms or serve as lifelong President is still unknown. It is expected at the very least that this change will allow him to serve as a more decisive leader and for actions to be taken quicker than before.

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