China poised to lift term limits for Xi


Xi began his second term as head of the party and military in October at the end of a party congress held once every five years.

Xi, 64, was elected as the head of the party and president in 2013 and later took over as head of the military.

Xi a year ago assumed the title of "core" of the CCP's leadership, elevating him above to a position reminiscent of communist China's founder, Mao Zedong.

The party's Central Committee proposed to remove the expression that the president and vice president of the People's Republic of China shall serve "no more than two consecutive terms" from the country's Constitution.

The Communist Party also proposed incorporating Xi's political thought into the Constitution. Still, the formal move to amend the constitution was surprising as it represents a clear break from the succession practices set up to establish stability after the political tumult of Mao Zedong's reign.

After reshaping the party past year, Xi will now put his mark on the government.

The current Constitution has been developed and improved based on the successful experience of China's socialist revolution, construction and reform, said Xi.

Even though his father Xi Zhongxun - a renowned revolutionary hero turned vice premier - was purged by Mao, Xi has remained true to the party that rules with an iron fist and over which he reigns supreme.

The only difference is that Mr Xi would no longer be able to make state visits without the presidential title.

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"He will stay at his pleasure, for as long as he wants to and feels that he needs to do so", said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London.

"The theoretical justification for removing tenure limits is that China requires a visionary, capable leader to see China through this multi-decade grand plan,"' Lam said.

"This move is also not without risk for Xi", Howie said.

The proposed constitutional changes were released in the name of the Central Committee, a council of hundreds of senior party officials, who will meet beginning Monday for three days.

During the upcoming NPC meeting, Xi's anti-corruption crusader Wang Qishan, who is 69 and retired from the PSC, is expected to be made vice president.

The tradition of limiting presidencies to 10 years emerged in the 1990s, when veteran leader Deng Xiaoping sought to avoid a repeat of the chaos that had marked the Mao era and its immediate aftermath.

He put Wang in charge of a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown that helped Xi eliminate challengers, both serving and retired, and cow potential opponents.

Reports that China was discussing changes to the constitution came out in December, but there was no word on what the country was planning to change.

"Hong Kong people are also anxious by Sunday's plans, as it was under Xi the biggest crackdown on any democracy movement in Hong Kong took place", Gopalan said.