China’s state media defend changes to constitution removing presidential term limits

‘We are increasingly confident that the key to China’s path lies in upholding strong Party leadership,’ Global Times editorial says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 11:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2018, 5:11pm

Chinese state media on Monday attacked critics of ending presidential term limits, which effectively allows President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely, saying the key to the country’s path was following the Communist Party.

China’s largely ceremonial parliament on Sunday overwhelmingly voted to amend the constitution, scrapping the term restrictions and adding clauses to strengthen the party’s already dominating role in politics.

In the run-up to the vote, critics on Chinese social media attacked the move and drew parallels to North Korea or suggested a Mao Zedong-type cult of personality was forming. The party announced the proposals just last month.

In an editorial, widely read tabloid Global Times said Western political theories were of no use to China.

“We are increasingly confident that the key to China’s path lies in upholding strong party leadership and firmly following the leadership of the party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core,” it said.

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“In these years we have seen the rise and decline of countries and particularly the harsh reality that the Western political system doesn’t apply to developing countries and produces dreadful results.”

The official China Daily newspaper reiterated a point previously made by the party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily that the amendment did not “imply lifetime tenure for any leader”.

“Yet some people in the West insist otherwise, even though it is only through specious speculation that they claim to know better,” the English-language paper said.

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Such people – it did not name names – had a deep-rooted ideological bias against China and had made one failed prediction after another about it, the report said.

“Their erroneous judgments are only a litany of short-sighted calumnies against the party and the nation.”

While social media accounts of major state media outlets either disabled their comments sections or made visible only comments praising the party, some words of dissent did manage to make it past the censors.

“How is it that socialism which is praised has become a monarchy making law?” wrote one user on the Twitter-like Weibo microblogging site.

“Why have they not released the voting tally?” wrote another.

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Only two “no” votes were cast, with three abstentions, from almost 3,000 delegates at the ongoing National People’s Congress, the nation’s legislature.

The US-based group Human Rights in China said there were huge risks in allowing such a concentration of power.

“Ending the two-term limit ignores the painful lesson of the Mao era and exposes the Chinese people again to the massive human suffering, abuses and national catastrophe that could result from unaccountable power concentrated in the hands of one person,” Sharon Hom, the group’s executive director, said.