China’s governing Communist Party has proposed removing a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms in a bid to allow Xi Jinping to extend his rule beyond 2023.
“The Communist Party of China 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 party reported, giving no further details.
The proposal will go before legislators at the annual full session of the National People’s Congress which starts on 5 March.
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. Xi’s two predecessors have followed the orderly pattern of succession, but since he came to power in 2012, he has shown a readiness to write his own rules by ushering in an era of increased assertiveness and authoritarianism.
He has been front and centre of China’s push to cement its position as a superpower, while also launching crackdowns on corruption and dissent. He has cultivated an enigmatic strongman image.
Party congress last year saw him cement his status as the most powerful leader since the late Mao Zedong. His ideology was also enshrined in the party’s constitution, and in a break with convention, no obvious successor was unveiled.