The Chinese government appears to be clearing the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to rule for life and is silencing anyone who disagrees.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) publicly proposed Sunday an amendment to China’s constitution that will remove term limits for the Chinese president. The CPC intends to remove “the expression that the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China ‘shall serve no more than two consecutive terms’ from the Constitution,” according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Since he took power a little over five years ago, Xi has been steadily tightening his grip on power.
He has waged a brutal war on corruption, punishing more than a million Chinese officials in a sweeping campaign that critics argue is aimed at eliminating political opponents. He has taken on more than a dozen leadership titles, giving Xi control of key decision-making bodies tied to China’s military, economic and political development.
He has also cracked down on dissent and division.
Xi has been named the “core” of the Communist Party of China, and his political ideology “Xi Jinping Thought” has been enshrined in the Chinese constitution alongside those of China’s strongest leaders — Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The latter was the first leader to call for an end to life-long rule.
Xi has been named the “supreme leader” (lingxiu), and Chinese state media has gone into overdrive pushing propaganda celebrating the life and achievements of the Chinese president.
There has long been speculation that Xi would hold onto power indefinitely, and those suspicious were reinforced when the president did not identify a successor at the National Party Congress last year.
The president declared that the coming era will be one “that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” and it is becoming increasingly clear that he intends to lead China as it moves forward along a new trajectory, advancing his so-called “Chinese Dream.”
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Critics have taken to social media in response to the proposed constitutional amendment.
“Argh, we’re going to become North Korea,” one netizen wrote, according to Reuters. “We’re following the example of our neighbor.” Both of these comments were removed as China’s censors stepped up their efforts to silence those opposed to the CPC’s latest move. The censors are targeting expressions such as “life-long rule” and “long live the emperor,” according to the Financial Times. Even expressions that sound like unacceptable phrases are apparently being targeted.
Interestingly, China’s foreign ministry said Monday that it hopes “everyone can acknowledge the voice of all the Chinese people.” The People’s Daily, the paper of the ruling CPC, stressed that “officials and the masses” hope “this constitutional reform is passed.” Although there is some evidence to the contrary.
That China is trying to shape the narrative on the rise of Xi to absolute power suggests that the president may actually be planning to hold onto power for life.
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