Fri, Mar 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

No life-long presidency: China

NORTH KOREA 2?The ‘People’s Daily’ said the ruling party’s constitution states that leaders cannot rule forever and that if their health does not hold up they should retire

Reuters, BEIJING

Reforms to China’s constitution to remove term limits for the presidency does not mean life-long terms, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) People’s Daily said yesterday, after a surge of concern that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) might stay in power for life.

The party made the announcement on Sunday, setting the stage for Xi to stay in office indefinitely should he wish, prompting accusations from some in the nation that China is set to become another North Korea.

The amendment is to be approved at this month’s annual meeting of the Chinese National People’s Congress, the nation’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, which is stacked with delegates loyal to the party who are not likely to challenge the proposal.

In a lengthy commentary, the People’s Daily said the idea was an “important move” to cement the party’s leadership in every aspect.

“This amendment does not mean changing the retirement system for party and national leaders, and does not mean a life-long term system for leading officials,” the newspaper wrote.

It said that the party’s constitution, which is different from the nation’s constitution, clearly states that leaders cannot keep their offices forever and that if their health does not hold up they should retire.

The regulations for who heads the party, the military and the state — all positions Xi currently holds — are all the same, the newspaper added.

“It is a system designed to accord with the national condition, and ensure long-term peace and stability for the party and the country,” it wrote.

The party has had an unwritten rule that senior officials cannot be promoted once they reach the age of 68, though the party has said that this rule is exactly that — unwritten.

There has been heated speculation since the end of the once-every-five-years CCP National Congress in October last year about the fate of a close Xi ally, former top graft buster Wang Qishan (王岐山), who stepped down from the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee at the congress, having reached the age of 69.

He is expected to be appointed vice president of the National People’s Congress with a specific role dealing with the administration of US President Donald Trump.

The move is significant because if Wang does not retire, that would set a precedent for Xi, now 64, to stay in power after he reaches what is normally considered retirement age.

Xi is to be formally elected to his second term as president at the National People’s Congress, which opens on Monday next week.

He began his second term as Chinese Communist Party secretary-general in October last year.

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