China’s ruling party may make a move that could change the course of the country’s history.
The Xinhua News Agency reported this weekend that China’s Communist Party has proposed the idea of ending term limits for the country’s president.
Specifically, the party proposed to eliminate an expression in its constitution that says China’s president and vice president "shall serve no more than two consecutive terms," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
This would allow the current president and party leader Xi Jinping to lead well past 2023, according to NBC News.
Xi will soon come to end of his first term in office. On March 5, he is expected to be appointed to his second term.
However, according to the Associated Press, the proposal to end the two-term limit will likely be accepted at that same meeting.
The two-term limit has been in place since 1982. As CNN reported, China moved away from one-man rule after the death of dictator Mao Zedong.
Last October, Xi cemented his legacy after the Communist Party wrote his name into the country’s constitution, which elevated him to “legendary” status. The move was believed to mean Xi would receive an extended stay of power, according to The Washington Post.
Both Zedong and former leader Deng Xiaoping are among those so-called Chinese legends.
As Quartz reported, Deng was the first leader to eliminate the lifelong tenure from the constitution during his time as leader.
Though he left the position in 1989, he told his colleagues that he hoped the two-term limits would exist beyond his time in office.
“My last task is to take the lead in establishing a retirement system,” he said, according to Quartz. “The natural law cannot be changed, and the leadership transition cannot be stopped.”
Deng made several changes to China that specified an orderly succession.
Willy Lam, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Quartz that Deng “had got the right lesson from the dictatorship of Mao Zedong,” but now, “all these reforms have been overturned by Xi Jinping.”
Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political commentator, said he thinks Xi needs five years to help China reach its goal of being a modern ruler.
It’s unlikely, he said, China would allow for lifetime rule again.
"President Xi may be in a leading position for a relatively long time," Hu said. "This is beneficial to pushing forward reforms and the fight against corruption, but it's impossible for China to have lifetime tenure again."
However, analysts told CNN that this move may be a sign of weakness for Xi, rather than a thirst for power. He may be looking to avoid more political rivals.2 comments on this story
“And his absolute authority will also leave him vulnerable to absolute blame in the instance of an economic shock or foreign policy crisis,” according to CNN. “The latter could be increasingly likely, as Xi's rule so far has been characterized by a more bullish military and diplomatic policy as China seeks to move into a power vacuum left in Asia by a retreating Washington.”
Still, Jude Blanchette, a Beijing-base Chinese politics researcher for The Conference Board analysis firm, told Time magazine that this move will have historic significance for the world.
“This is a very significant move towards China transforming into a one-man system,” she said. "It’s hard to overemphasize what a big deal this is for the future of China and the world given China’s importance to the global economy and global institutions.”