Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

But Getting Rid Of Xi Jinping Is The Purpose Of The Two Term Limit

Xi Jinping – or perhaps his aides and aids in the Communist Party – has proposed getting rid of the two term limit on anyone being the top dog in Chinese politics. He’s in a sufficient position of strength to be able to do this so, why not? Because rather the purpose of the two term limit is to get rid of Xi Jinping, or at least those like him. Powerful people who can dominate a country and political system.

Sure, Chinese politics works within the echoes of China’s past and the disaster that was Mao’s rule means no one’s all that keen on perpetual rule – until age overcomes at least – by any individual. There’s also that much older and longer lasting idea of the Mandate of Heaven. A centralised state dominated by the one man isn’t a new experience in that country or polity.

However, this is still a bad idea:

China’s Communist Party proposed eliminating a constitutional cap on presidential terms, solidifying signs Xi Jinping intends to cast off decades-old restraints on one-man rule and stay in power for many years to come.

No, really, not to be applauded.

China’s President, Xi Jinping, has become a dominant figure in Chinese politics, commanding the loyalty of the ruling party’s factions, the military and the business elite, and making him the most powerful leader since the country’s revolutionary founder, Mao Zedong.

That’s rather why.

China’s official news agency, Xinhua, announced the dramatic news on Sunday in a bland 36-word dispatch. It paves the way for Xi to remain in power well into the next decade and perhaps even beyond.

That announcement is here:

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.

It should be said that Xi hasn’t been a bad ruler by the standards of the system, time and place. He’s not, as some Chinese leaders have done, starved tens of millions through stupidity. He’s not even slowed down the surge for economic wealth which is something that most certainly could have been screwed up. However, he does have rather more power than it’s healthy for any individual to have. Thus the desirability of the term limits.

As our masthead proclaims we are realists around here. We’re fine with the idea that a society desires a figurehead, a polarising figure. Yes, of course we’d all prefer it if it was some set of glorious ideas which unified but that tends not to be how us humans work. So, fine, a masthead to which colours can be nailed. We’re also fine with the thought that government needs to exist which means that some people have to go and govern. We’re minarchists, in that we think less is more and that the necessary and desirable lists of government activity are pretty short, rather shorter than near all extant governments attempt. But that’s a matter of the length of the list, not the existence of a list itself. We’re also just fine with the idea of a dictator – but note in that Roman sense, not the more modern one. Cincinnatus is our model here, not Adolf.

All of which leads us to a distinctly non-conformist view of political and societal leadership. Pure figureheads, great, they can be there for life. We’re going to have someone or other pinning the VC on people and Brenda can carry on doing that ’till she drops. Beats President John Prescott after all. But people with real and great political power, no, they must be moved on. And a paradox is that in our minds the more effective they are, the better at both gaining and using real power, the faster they should be shuffled off the stage.

Xi Jinping’s not perfect by any means and he’s not done all that badly by China either. He’s been effective at gaining, exercising and keeping power. That’s why there should be those term limitations to send him back to his plough.

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6 years ago

I think there is another reason for limiting the term of a leader. Once in office a leader has little time to reflect and little access to the ideas of people (unless one counts politicians and civil servants). Hence he becomes less and less aware of the countries current problems and more and influenced by special interests. He starts office with an understanding of the problems to be solved and a program to solve them. If he can’t get his program implemented in, say, eight years then it’s doubtful he ever will. If it doesn’t work then a new program… Read more »

6 years ago

Yes, sure, let’s have a king who sticks around for decades; let’s even give him a veto over process, though no control over substance. But limiting Xi’s power was the purpose of this clause, and also giving the impression China is not a dictatorship. But if, when push comes to shove, the clause itself goes away, it is a dictatorship. This seems also to happen in every nation in Latin America. My favorite is Peru, where the law turning the Constitution on its head was called “Authentic Interpretation.”

6 years ago

I remember reading article when Xi first came to power that said he was a Mao wannabe. It is interesting tale – Xi is a princeling, him and his father suffered greatly during 1960s cultural revolution – and now Xi is using Mao as guide.

John Galt
6 years ago

It should be said that Xi hasn’t been a bad ruler by the standards of the system, time and place. He’s not, as some Chinese leaders have done, starved tens of millions through stupidity.

…so far…

Tim Newman
6 years ago

Meh. If this is what the Chinese want, let them do it. I’m kinda done worrying about how people who are vastly different from me on almost every measure go about their business. I’m more concerned about the “permanent governments” we have in the west, which seems to run things regardless of who is elected. Look at the uphill battle Trump is fighting against unelected bodies who have decided they will run the country as they see fit.

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