Home GRASP GRASP/China China's parliament session: Xi Jinping's power grab to dominate

China's parliament session: Xi Jinping's power grab to dominate

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The annual session of China’s largely ceremonial parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), opens Monday and will be dominated by one man: Xi Jinping.
Here are four things to watch over the next two weeks:
Limitless power?
The Communist Party on February 25 announced a series of proposed amendments to the country’s 1982 constitution, nominally China’s supreme law.
The one that’s caught most attention — and controversy — is the removal of presidential term limits, which would break a custom of leadership change once every decade and pave the way for the 64-year-old Xi to stay in power indefinitely.
Xi, already seen as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, also heads the party and the military — two posts more powerful than the presidency with no term limits. The official explanation for the constitutional move has been to align the three positions.
“It is conducive to safeguarding the authority as well as the centralized and unified leadership of the Communist Party Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core,” NPC spokesman Zhang Yesui told reporters Sunday in response to CNN’s question. “It is conducive to strengthening and improving China’s leadership system.”
However, a public backlash against Xi’s perceived move toward lifelong dictatorship has emerged despite government propaganda and strict censorship.
While the approval of the amendments is not in doubt, analysts will be looking to see if there’s any “no” votes or abstaining ballots cast for signs of opposition to Xi’s power grab (though the authorities have already said that reporters will not be allowed in during the vote on March 11.)
Anti-graft czar resurfaces
In China’s power hierarchy, the ceremonial vice presidency is often an afterthought. But its likely new occupant — to be revealed on March 17 — may shake up politics both at home and abroad.
Many analysts see growing signs of Wang Qishan, China’s fearsome former anti-corruption czar, becoming the new vice president and being given major responsibilities that may include China-US relations.
Wang, 69, was one of Xi’s most trusted lieutenants, responsible for carrying out the president’s signature campaign of cracking down on rampant graft in the party.

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