China on Sunday cleared the decks for President Xi Jinping’s third consecutive term in office, ahead of a major session of parliament that commences early next month.
China’s Xinhua news agency reported that Communist Party of China (CPC) proposed on Sunday that the President and the Vice President will not be constitutionally restricted to two consecutive terms in office. In effect, it means that the Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is serving his second consecutive five year term, can continue beyond 2023.
Analysts point out that the removal of a two term restriction on the Vice President is also significant. There is speculation that Wang Qishan, the country’s anti-corruption czar and President Xi’s trusted ally who had officially retired in November could be reappointed as Vice President. Alternatively he could head a new National Supervisory Commission that would be empowered to throw its dragnet beyond the 86 million members of the CPC, including private business houses.
Xinhua reported that the CPC had proposed that the expression that the president and vice-president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” shall be removed from the country’s constitution.
Some observers, however, highlight that the CPC’s move is not confined to the longevity of President Xi’s term in office, but is a deeper long term initiative. “I think the biggest issue is the transition of power after Xi, as the work he is doing to reform the Party and economy is substantial and necessary,” says political commentator Einar Tangen, in a conversation with The Hindu .
He added: “Due to the massive changes in government, and with more to come, it was probable that to implement these changes and let them take root, he would need more time”.
The announcement came after the powerful 25-member Politburo met on Saturday. On Monday, the Central Committee of the CPC would meet to discuss the proposed changes including personnel. The flurry of political activity would culminate in the March 3 session of the National People’s Congress (NPC)-China’s parliament. The NPC would give final shape to major decisions taken at the twice- a- decade National Party Congress held in October 2017.
Xinhua also reported that the party proposed that Mr. Xi’s political theory — Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era — would be written into the constitution. Besides, the formation of the National Supervisory Commission, as a new super anti-graft agency as a constitutional entity was planned.