On Sunday, March
11th, China made a drastic change to the nation’s constitution. China
removed its presidential two-term limits and created a pathway for the current
leader, Xi Jinping, to stay in office indefinitely.
Communist Party announced the proposal to abolish presidential term limits on
Sunday, February 25th, and received international backlash.
When the party first
announced the proposal, a political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong
Kong, Willy Lam, called the controversial proposal a “potentially very
dangerous” move by the party and criticized Xi Jinping for pursuing the
footsteps of Mao Zedong. “Xi Jinping has finally achieved his ultimate goal…
that is to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century,” said Lam. Lam
added, “For Xi Jinping, whatever he says is the law. There are no longer any
checks and balances.”
comments mocking and criticizing Xi Jinping’s move towards totalitarian
leadership surfaced the internet. A picture of Winnie-the-Pooh hugging a jar of
honey, accompanied by a caption which reads, “Find the thing you love and stick
with it,” received a massive attention across various social media platforms.
Despite a number
of oppositions against the change to the constitution, only two delegates out
of 2,964 voted against the decision which virtually grants Xi Jinping a permanent
ownership to one of the nation’s most powerful positions.
assumed office in 2012 and exhibited an effort to centralize institutional
power and crack down on corruption and dissent. Xi is also the head of both military
and the Communist Party which have no term limits. With the removal of the
presidential term limits, the entire infrastructure of China is essentially
under Xi’s control.
Xi calls the
constitutional change “a reflection of the common will of the party and the
people.” However, with China’s strict censorship of criticism towards Xi or his
policies, it is difficult to gauge an accurate favor-to-oppose ratio in regards
to the particular decision.
constitutional change, which seemingly aligns with the goals of the most
powerful leader in China, was approved on Sunday; the change grants the
National Supervision Commission an authority to target anyone that deems “disloyal”
to the Communist Party.
In a recent
report by CNN, a regional director for Asia at the Economist Intelligence Unit,
Duncan Innes-Ker compared China’s current political movement to the beginning
of Putin regime. “It looks very much like the early stage of Putin, the
accumulation of power,” said Innes-Ker, “The bigger question is whether or not
this accumulation of power around Xi is positive or negative for reform.”