China's constitutional change may extend tenure of presidency

Reported by Vanessa Yung, Oasis Li and Yetta Lam

Edited by Scout Xu and Yolanda Gao

China proposed to abolish the current term limits for presidency in the 13th National People's Congress.

Removing the requirement that a president "shall serve no more than two consecutive terms" from the constitution could mean Chinese president Xi Jinping remains in his position for years to come.

The revision is supported by the public and committees, said Wang Chen, the Secretary-General and Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

He added that the revision would help centralise and unify the leadership of the Communist Party.

Fu King-wa, Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong, said this means future presidents could serve for life.

Zhang Baohui, political science professor at Lingnan University, said this proposal violates Deng Xiaoping's reforms to stop another dictator like Mao Zedong.

"And it means that China is possibly back to strongman politics," Mr. Zhang said.

The committee also proposed adding "Xi Jinping Thought" to the constitution, making Xi the third leader to have his name added behind Mao and Deng.

Mr. Zhang said this promotes the cult of personality.

"I think the whole package is to create the atmosphere that Xi is the most powerful person in China," Mr. Fu said, "and also to change the legal framework to support him."

Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo reached a peak in the number of censored posts last Sunday, Mr. Fu said. He helps run Weiboscope, a project making censored Weibo posts publicly accessible.

Sensitive keywords like "proclaim oneself emperor", "long live" and "Xi Zedong," a combination of the names Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong, flooded the platform and were quickly deleted. said Fu.

"A lot of people don't want to see this kind of tenure happening in China, like the previous state of the Cultural Revolution," Mr. Fu said.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.


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