A propaganda poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping on a wall in Beijing on March 12, 2018
The near-unanimous vote of the Chinese Parliament is making headlines in the foreign press. But Xi Jinping’s „for life“ presidency is now largely ignored in China itself, revealing embarrassment over public reluctance.
The Chinese media remained paradoxically unobtrusive Monday on the vote of the deputies, who abolished the day before, unanimously minus two votes and three abstentions, the constitutional limit of two presidential terms of five years, which aimed to prevent the return to power. an autocrat.
The media, tightly controlled by the communist regime „have been ordered not to talk about the obvious consequence“ of this reform, said Sinologist Dr. Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong: „Xi Jinping will become a leader in life“.
The head of state, who has ruled China for more than five years, should normally have ceded the presidency in 2023. The vote of some 3,000 deputies means that Xi Jinping, 64, is free to present himself as many times as he wishes it to head the state – it must be renewed in the coming days by Parliament for his second term.
„Yesterday’s unanimous vote does not mean that most Chinese support this return to the old imperial regime, it just shows that they realize that the risk of opposing Xi Jinping is too high,“ he said. assures Mr. Lam.
Witness, the vote of the National People’s Congress (ANP) has sparked criticism of Weibo messaging. „We are damned“, „We returned to the Qing Dynasty“, we read on the „Chinese Twitter“, before censorship erases these comments.
„Despite all the efforts to divert attention from the fact that Xi Jinping is turning into a kind of Mao Tse-tung, in private people are talking about it a lot,“ says Lam, referring to the founder of Communist regime (1949-76).
Unwillingly presented two weeks before the vote, the change of presidential terms was included in a broader constitutional reform, which included the inclusion of „Xi Jinping Thought“ in the constitution and „the leading role of the Chinese Communist Party.“ „(PCC) in its article first.
– ‚Personality cult‘ –
As a result, the People’s Daily, the party’s governing body, is doing its „A“ on constitutional change, but evoking these other aspects. A front-page editorial simply refers to „the improvement of the presidential term system“, without further details or comment.
„Xi Jinping’s trick was to incorporate the abolition of term limits into a broader reform of 21 articles,“ said political scientist Jean-Pierre Cabestan of Hong Kong Baptist University.
Chinese President Xi Jinping during the plenary session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, March 11, 2018
The discretion of the media is deliberate, says political scientist Hu Xingdou from Beijing. „It’s to prevent people from talking too much about it.Many people do not know about it.It should avoid discussion and it becomes a hot topic.“
Voices have criticized the disappearance of a rule that has guaranteed smooth transitions of power for almost 30 years. A former deputy minister and secretary of Mao, Li Rui, denounced in early March in the Hong Kong press the „cult of personality“ that now surrounds Xi Jinping. „He wants to become president for life,“ said the former centenary leader in the daily Ming Pao.
At a press conference Sunday evening, a regime representative, Shen Chunyao, assured that the abolition of the term limits was widely supported since the deputies – handpicked – applauded twice when the amendment was presented to them.
He ruled „unfounded“ the question of a foreign journalist worried about a possible return of fights of factions in succession.
In an editorial aimed at Western readers, the English-language daily China Daily assures that the constitutional amendment „does not mean the end of the system of retirement for the leaders … (…) nor a mandate for life for some responsible whether it’s „.
We will know in five years whether the pension system also applies to Mr. Xi.