Chinese President proposes scrapping term limits as their government moves closer to a dictatorship
Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed eliminating the 10-year term limit allowed for rulers, paving the way for himself to rule indefinitely. In a series of proposed constitutional amendments, Chinese lawmakers are expected to approve these changes. The state-controlled media has been seen as trying to justify the move, by saying the removal of term-limits allows for the guarantee of stable leadership in China. President Xi has said the time has come for his vision to restore the country to “its rightful place as a global power” will require him to continue to be able to preside as leader of the country.
Xi took power in 2012, which was followed by his vow to restore China to its former glory among the superpowers of the world. China is run by the Communist party, but it is well known for its high-level of corruption among high ranking officials. In Xi’s time as president, he has initiated a series of purges of some of his most powerful enemies in the country, solidifying his position of power. One of the most well-known political prisons in the country is reported to be nearing capacity, filled up with those caught up in the political purges brought on by Xi. Carl Minzner, an expert on Chinese authoritarianism revival, has said Xi’s ruthless nature stems from “The fear would be that potentially, if his reign doesn’t continue, people would try to settle scores.”
There has been widespread concern for the wellbeing of Chinese citizens under Xi’s rule for some time now, especially when concerning dissidents and liberals, who have suffered from some of the harshest political crackdown in decades. Thousands of academics, critics, and activists have been jailed since Xi took power in 2012. Many have realized the similarity of the political atmosphere that Xi has created to previous Chinese ruler Mao Zedong. Mao ruled from 1949 until his death in 1976, and his push for the industrialization of China resulted in the deaths of tens of millions during the Great Famine.
The political atmosphere that currently surrounds Xi is reminiscent of Mao’s rule. Minzer is among many who fear that China will return to this state of politics, where “purges, political turmoil, and the writ of one man over everything” is commonplace. James Palmer, the author of the The Death of Mao, has said he thinks China will “pay a heavy price for its sharp regression into a full blown dictatorship.”
Already, China has taken steps to implement a heavy influence over its citizens lives. They recently announced the launch of a nationwide civilian surveillance plan that will use facial recognition to spy on Chinese citizens. Chinese officials will be developing a database called “Police Cloud” which will have the goal of gathering personal data on every citizen in order to develop a social profile that can be easily pulled up by the government. This data includes travel records, medical records, online purchases, social media comments, and internet browsing history, which will then be linked to the persons state ID and face.
This is just one aspect of the realized effects of this new power grab by President Xi, and with it, an increasingly dire situation for the rights of Chinese citizens.