China's Communist Party sets stage for Xi to remain in power

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  Feb. 25, 2018 at 8:58 AM
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Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The Communist Party of China has proposed ending presidential term limits, signaling President Xi Jinping plans to remain in power for years to come.

The state-run Xinhua news agency announced Sunday that the Central Committee of the Communist Party is suggesting constitutional amendments to be voted on by lawmakers when an annual legislative session convenes next month.

The proposals include plans to remove the clause in the constitution that limits presidents to serving for only two five-year terms.

Observers said the move signals President Xi Jinping, 64, intends to remain in power for many years after the end of his second term, which is due to end in 2023.

The Communist Party declared Xi as its greatest living theorist and appointed him to a second five-year term as head of the head party and took the unusual move of not identifying a likely successor, which was taken by many as an indication that Xi would seek to retain the presidency for more than two terms.

"I think this is without a doubt the clearest confirmation we've had yet that Xi Jinping plans to stay in power much longer than we thought," Jude Blanchette, a Beijing resident and political expert who works for company research body the Conference Board, told The New York Times of the Communist Party's latest announcement. "We should expect Xi Jinping to be the dominant political force in China for the next decade."

The move would enshrine Xi as China's longest-serving leader since Mao Zedong.

"Xi wants to be like Mao," a Chinese official involved in decision-making told The Wall Street Journal. "With Wang Qishan as vice president, Xi can just focus on big strategic issues as the nation's paramount leader and let Wang take care of all those foreign trips and other affairs."

The legislature is expected to pass the proposal after the session begins March 1.

"I don't see any reasonable challenges for him," Beijing-based political analyst Wu Qiang, told the Times. "He has removed any potential political competitors."

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