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Xi Jinping - Today's chairman, tomorrow's dictator?

01 March 2018

This proposal essentially paves way for the Chinese President Xi Jinping to continue in office well beyond 2023, a scenario which was speculated much before this announcement.

And while the presidency wields no executive powers, it seems certain that by signaling his plans to stay on as president, Xi is signaling that he plans to retain his position as the Communist Party's general secretary as well. Bolstered by a good economic performance averaging between 7-8%, despite a global slowdown, Xi sought to soften his control over markets and tighten his control over politics. The president has re-centralized decision-making and personally taken charge of so many tasks that Britain's Economist labeled him "Chairman of everything".

The delegation, headed by Guo Yezhou, vice minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), fully explained the background against which Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was created, as well as its rich contents.

Xi's decision to appoint himself the modern-day version of an emperor could have implications for the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. The abrupt change clears the way for Xi to stay in power indefinitely.

In 2016, Xi's status as the undisputed leader of the party was institutionalised when he was awarded the title of "core leader" by the party. If its leader maintains a dictatorial rule for long, the risks of policy rigidities and corruption will grow without a doubt. The limit was set in 1982 under Deng Xiaoping, then China's leader.

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Xi, the son of a famed Communist Party veteran, is known as a "princeling". At the end of his first term, President Xi Jinping was elevated to the status of late paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, securing an nearly unchallengeable dominance over the Communist Party, he was named as "code leader" of the party. Xi's popularity also soared after he took some tough positions on matters of global importance. If and when things go south, the economy slows further and the massive debt that China's state-owned firms have amassed begins to cause a cascade of defaults and bankruptcies, Xi will be right in the crosshairs of his many political enemies and perhaps protesters on the street. China adopted term limits in the 1990s in an attempt to avoid Mao-style cults of personality and impose stability and accountability.

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". That's a real risk in a country whose economic growth figures are already largely discredited, and where Mao was told grain production was booming during a starvation that killed tens of millions of people. But this has been accompanied by a surge in economic numbers, something that provided the Chinese with economic security and served to quieten dissent.

The way that the careers of internet czar Lu Wei, a man who courted the public eye in meetings with people like Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, or Chongqing Party boss Sun Zhengcai, were abruptly ended by corruption charges were dramatic illustrations that Xi will brook no rivals, experts added. The portly bear has been compared to Mr Xi by many web users in China. The BRI is already facing time and cost overruns in several countries. While the move has been heavily criticized, it's also been a boon for Chinese speculators.

If harmful effects of iron-fist rule were to appear not only in China's domestic affairs but also in its diplomatic policy, it would intensify the country's friction with Japan and the United States as well as its neighboring countries.

Whether power corrupts is not a matter of checks and balances alone, as those who check each other can be mutually corrupt.

Xi Jinping - Today's chairman, tomorrow's dictator?