Will the Chinese Communist Party Allow Xi Jinping to Serve a Third Term?

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In a potentially epoch-making break from precedent, the Chinese Communist Party has mooted amendments to the country’s constitution which would allow President Xi Jinping to serve a third consecutive term.

Xinhua reports that constitutional amendments proposed by the CCP include the removal of a clause stipulating a restriction of two five-year terms for holders of the Chinese presidential office.

According to the state-owned news agency the CCP central committee has proposed that reference to the Chinese president “[holding] office for no more than two successive terms” be expunged from the constitution.

The amendment would instead only make reference to “each term of the president and vice president of the People’s Republic of China [being] identical to each term of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.”

The move would mark a major break with precedent for China’s political system, which has applied a two-term limit for nearly the past three decades, since former President Jiang Zemin held office during the period from 1993 to 2003.

In addition to paving the way for Xi to extend his tenure as China’s paramount leader, the proposed amendments also seek to shore up his prestige by including reference to “Xi Jinping’s new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the constitution.

Last year’s 19th National Congress of the CCP signalled the potential for an extended period in office for Xi by refraining from announcing a clear successor.

Xi took office as president in 2013, and under the existing constitution is scheduled to vacate the position in 2023.

An editorial in the state-owned Global Times newspaper has quoted CCP academic Su Wei as saying that China needs “stable, strong and consistent leadership” during the period from 2020 to 2035.

According to the editorial the constitutional change would not mean that Xi will enjoy lifelong tenure as president.

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