China’s Term Limits Call for Controversy

Lily Chen ‘21

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On February 25th, China shocked the world by approving the removal of the two term, 10 year limit set in Deng XiaoPing’s 1982 Constitution. With this new reform, current President of China, Xi JinPing, can stay in power beyond the expiration of his second term in 2023– potentially for his entire life. Ever since this announcement, the prospect of Xi JinPing’s life rule as Chairman has been a buzzing topic all over the world.

Xi JinPing, as a believer of the “Chinese Dream,” has made mass movements to crack down on corruption, abolish abuse, and spur the Chinese economy. His efforts to reduce corruption have had evident impacts, as he has removed over a million corrupt high and low ranking officials from office over the past few years [1].  His behavior has even established him as the “greatest since Mao Zedong.”

Rachael An ‘21 shares, “Xi’s support to eradicate corruption and bring economic success is astonishing; it is what China needs to move forward as a nation. I’m excited to witness how China will progress in the next few years, and how it will affect the world.”

Along with Xi’s reformative approach, he also believes that only implementing a long term leader will bring true change to China. Xi often idolizes Chairman Mao Zedong and venerates his contributions to China. Additionally, he believes that only a single, long term leader can accomplish the most and truly fulfill his promises and reforms to a country. In his 2015 speech, he proclaimed: “Decisions and plans must be executed in full, and one must see things through from beginning to end, to ensure that no one simply goes through the motions or treats plans as a temporary measure, like a passing gust of wind.”

However, the prospect of lifelong rule could destabilize China and promote an authoritarian type of government, potentially leading it to an economic turmoil. At the end of Mao Zedong’s rule, China faced a grand scale famine that killed over 20 million people during the Great Leap forward; In 1982, Deng XiaoPing addressed term limits to avoid similar economic difficulties in China. Along with term limits, Deng was a strong supporter of trade and built relationships with countries to ensure economic growth. Today, China trades a total of over a trillion dollars with the European Union and the United States in goods and services. Considering China’s heavy involvement in global trade, eliminating term limits could potentially call for global economic disaster.

Patrick Feng ‘20 muses, “I think that this could potentially be harmful to China’s political system. Right now, Xi is doing his best to improve China, however over time, he could potentially be corrupted by power. It really depends on what he decides to do during his rule.”

It is not confirmed that Xi will rule as a lifelong leader, but judging from his frequent references to predecessor Mao Zedong’s rule and his mottos– it is very likely that he is here to stay. There is a lot that Xi has to offer, and a grand deal of things that Xi could accomplish to change the world for the better.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11551399

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China’s Term Limits Call for Controversy