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Thread: Xi Jinping's historic power grab in China

  1. #16
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    7 things you need to know about lifting term limits for Xi Jinping - Brookings


    At its annual meeting beginning on March 5, the Chinese National People’s Congress appears poised to adopt a “recommendation” by the Communist Party that the two-term limit for president and vice president be eliminated. The change is of course not an expression of a preferred governance norm for longer terms, but rather a dramatic shift designed to permit President Xi Jinping to stay in power after his second presidential term expires in 2023.

    This bolt out of the blue changes decades of Chinese government practice and appears also to be the prelude to changing the Communist Party norm that leaders cannot serve a new term after age 68. Xi, who was born in 1953, will be 69 when his term as general secretary of the Party ends in 2022. Given the practice since Jiang Zemin to ensure that the president and general secretary are one and the same, it appears that if Xi intends to serve a 3rd term as president, he will be invited to stay on as general secretary beyond the age limit.

    At this point, there are more questions than answers about what this means for China, and for other countries. I will pose some of the major questions below and offer best guesses on the answers.

    1. Why does China have term limits and age thresholds for its leaders?

    Deng Xiaoping put the limits in place in the 1980s as part of his effort to ensure that China was never again subjected to a crushing dictatorship like that of Chairman Mao and the turmoil it occasioned. China’s Communist system not accepting the Western notion of formal checks and balances, Deng instituted a system with Chinese characteristics designed to prevent return of one-man rule or a cult of personality by preventing leaders from staying indefinitely in power. The term limits for senior government leaders are constitutionally mandated. The age limits for Party leaders are norms that have been respected for over two decades.

    2. Will this change be limited to the president and vice president?

    It will be a huge challenge for the leadership to maintain limits for the tenure of other officials. Deng and his successors have forced powerful Party leaders to retire when they reach the age norm limit, but have been able to do so because they themselves accepted those limits, at least insofar as formal positions were concerned. Party veterans in the future will point to Xi’s defiance of the age limit and assert their right to continue in power. Deng’s system to ensure a rotation of officials in leadership positions will be very much in peril.

    3. Is this change a sign of Xi’s strength?

    Yes and no.

    Yes in that it is unlikely that any leader since Deng could have forced such a change in the face of competing personalities and factions. Xi has successfully used his first term in office to monopolize an array of leadership positions, to have himself declared the “core” of the leadership, and to eliminate other pockets of power through a rigorous anti-corruption campaign (which, to be fair, also has targeted many corrupt officials).

    No in that there is reason to believe that the decision to allow Xi indefinite tenure reflects deep concern over instability. Economic restructuring and reform promised when Xi took over the Party in 2012 has been disappointing at best. Mounting debt at the regional level, in banks, and by private and state-owned companies alike has caused international credit institutions to flash yellow lights and is preoccupying Chinese leaders. The younger generation is notably unimpressed by the repressive heavy hand of the Party in general and Xi in particular, as evidenced by the constant chase by censors to keep up with social media critics. Investigations have taken down an extraordinary number of senior leaders, from Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang to the former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission and director of the General Office, among many others. With so many leaders having bitten the dust, it seems likely that others who have remained in place feel both unease and uncertain loyalty to the top.

    4. What does this mean for Chinese governance and decisionmaking?

    It is likely to mean an even greater centralization of decisionmaking and slowness in getting important matters resolved. Lower-ranking officials, always cautious, will be more hesitant to stick their necks out to decide consequential and inconsequential matters, knowing that power at the very top is even more concentrated than before. Officials will wait for guidance rather than offering suggestions, and internal Party dissent—which has long been more lively than outsiders realize—will shrivel away to be replaced by fawning demonstrations of loyalty.

    Dictatorships are able to make some decisions more easily than democratic or consensus-based systems. China has been a dictatorship since 1949, so the decisionmaking strengths and weaknesses of the system will be more of degree than kind.

    5. How will this affect the transition of power to the next leadership, whenever that may come?

    Negatively. Since 1989, Chinese leadership transitions have been smooth and without visible turmoil. There has been a regularity and predictability to the process. Differences have been worked out behind the scenes among the Party leadership. At least several years out, there has been a presumptive successor, who has invariably moved up when his time came.

    That is now all up for grabs. If Xi chooses to stay on, it will signal to other ambitious would-be leaders that norms and consensus do not matter. The chances of leadership transitions descending into wars of all against all will be real. Chinese turmoil and repression in 1989 surrounding the pro-democracy demonstrations were made possible by deep splits in the leadership over policy and succession. Since then, in the interests of stability, the Party has not allowed any public splits. Preserving such unity in a Party that has abandoned Deng’s norms will be much harder, with consequences for the stability that Chinese so value.

    6. Is this primarily about Xi’s overseas imperial ambitions or domestic concerns?

    It is almost certainly owing to a combination of unease over domestic instability and personal ambitions rather than foreign policy. Xi already has the authority he needs to project China’s expanded and expanding interests overseas. Having a longer term in office will not affect his ability to do so.

    There are heightened concerns in China over the direction of U.S.-China relations, particularly in the economic sphere as the Trump administration contemplates draconian measures to combat unfair Chinese trading practices. But there is no reason why such concerns should affect a power transition four or five years away. While there is anxiety in China over American policy and mood toward China, it is not a Code Red presenting such a challenge that Chinese institutions and norms need to be transformed.

    7. Is there any good news for China and outsiders looking for sound decisionmaking in this change?

    It is hard to find silver linings, but there are a few.

    For all of the shortcomings of Xi’s rule on economic reform, the increased domestic repression, and the security challenges to China’s neighbors, Xi is not an impulsive, hot-headed, or irrational leader. The comparisons to Chairman Mao are thoroughly wrong-headed, as Chinese who experienced the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution point out. Foreign leaders tend to value rationality and predictability, and Xi is likely to provide that, though he certainly is capable of boldness, creativity, and assertiveness unsettling to Americans and some neighbors (e.g. South China Sea reclamation, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank). One should not assume that having him around longer will prevent some preferable or more emollient leader from emerging.

    Also encouraging, those apparently primed to become top advisors to Xi in the wake of this soft coup include two of China’s most capable and outward-looking officials: Wang Qishan and Liu He. The talk of Wang becoming vice president, with special responsibility for the relationship with the United States, is more and more credible (we will know the outcome by mid-March). Wang, who served as the highly capable counterpart of Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner through the economic crisis of 2008-09, has a history of serving as a Mr. Fixit in handling China’s largest problems. He also brings a global and market-oriented perspective to China’s economic challenges. Liu He, who currently serves as Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and director of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, is likely to be promoted to Vice Premier at the National People’s Congress. He is already Xi’s most trusted economic advisor, and arguably the official with the best understanding of the reforms needed if China is to sustain economic growth and not sink into the so-called “middle income trap.” His promotion as key advisor to a strengthened Xi could provide an opportunity to give some needed fuel to the economic reform process. Whether Xi intends to be bolder in his next term in that respect is, like much else, unknown and unpredictable.

  2. #17
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    Yes. Free speech is what the Western Journalists peddled when the false notion of a peaceful rise of China was spread by the communist propaganda machine. Ironic, that you would attack Western Journalists and don't value free speech.
    Who's attacking western journalism?
    If you want to get picky, you might have said that I was criticizing non-Western and / or non-Journalists analysts ...

    Where do you come up with these ideas?

    = = = = =




    Term limits were agreed upon – not put in place by Deng Xiaoping – for more than one reason. Yes, they Elders agreed Mao had ruled too long. But, they also recognized that leaving the succession issue to the last man standing wasn’t very smart. They wanted younger men to take over, but to be guided by their Elders in major issues.

    Then, they interfered and screwed things up on more than one occasion. Jiang Zemin hung on to power beyond his 10-year terms by retaining the chair of the Military Affairs Committee throughout Hu Jintao’s first term.

    Term limits exist for party leaders right down to the lowest levels. It isn’t just the top jobs.
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  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Who's attacking western journalism?
    If you want to get picky, you might have said that I was criticizing non-Western and / or non-Journalists analysts ...

    Where do you come up with these ideas?
    This is what you wrote -
    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    The only ones I've seen even hinting at this kind of thing -- staying in formal positions of power for more than 10 years -- are Western journalists.
    Pardon my free speech, if not an attack, then definitely a snide remark. Your defense of anything Chinese doesn't go unnoticed, again freedom to choose whom to support, is not a communist characteristic, rather western. But it's your choice nonetheless. Please do continue.

  4. #19
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    Does Xi’s bid to tighten his grip signal the potential for impending instability in China?

    Manoj Joshi says - Taking more and more titles and power may actually be a sign that Xi Jinping is not being able push through his policies in the way he wants.

    A terse announcement published in Xinhua news agency on Sunday says “The Communist Party of China Central Committee (CC) 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 is not clear when the meeting of the CC occurred, probably at the second plenum of the CC in January, but it is obvious that the target of the announcement is the 13th session of National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s equivalent of Parliament, which opens for its annual session on March 5.

    Xi Jinping was given a second term as general secretary by the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Congress in October 2017, now the NPC will confirm him to a second term as President in March 2018. Once the new amendment is approved, it will give Xi Jinping, aged 64, the institutional authority to remain President beyond 2023, when he should have retired, having completed two terms. In other words, Xi could well be President for life.

    Other amendments could see the Xi Jinping Thought being written into the state constitution as well as the establishment of a new anti-graft body called the National Supervisory Commission (NSC). This last named body will be one of the biggest institutional changes in recent times. Currently, the Central Commission on Discipline Inspection (CCDI) monitors party members, while the NSC will supervise all public workers, including those in government, courts, as well as doctors, academics and teachers. Wang Qishan, the powerful head of the CCDI, who retired at the party congress last year, was elected as a delegate to the NPC in January, suggesting that may be appointed head of the new NSC.

    China has a complicated parallel system where the Communist Party and the Chinese State, both with their own constitutions, coexist. While the CPC runs the military through the Central Military Commission, other ministries and departments are run through the authority of the state constitution. It has its own institutions like the President, NPC, the State Council headed by a Premier, state councillors, ministries, etc. who are all largely party members. In other words, the state constitution and state law are made by “the people” through the NPC under the leadership of the CPC. Usually a minister not only heads the ministry, but is also the secretary of the ministry’s party committee. So, as minister, he reports to the state Premier, in this case Li Keqiang, and as party secretary, up the chain to the general secretary who is Xi Jinping.

    Xi Jinping wears three hats – the general secretary of the CPC, president of China and the chairman of the Central Military Commission. Note that he was elected general secretary in November 2012, months before he became president at the annual NPC meeting in March 2013.

    The signs of Xi continuing beyond his term in 2023 have been visible for some time now. In 2016, Xi was officially designated by the CC as “the core” of the leadership, a title he shares with Mao Tse Tung, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. More recently, two prominent newspapers conferred the title lingxu on him. This word means leader, but one of the highest calibre in contrast to simply being a leader or lingdao, and this designation he shares with Mao and Deng only.

    Xi has also used the institution of Leading Groups to take direct charge of a range of areas. He is the chairman of the Leading Groups for comprehensively deepening reforms, on military and civilian development, internet security, financial affairs, foreign affairs, defence and military reforms and the national security commission. These Leading Groups comprise core officials and party members and call the real shots in the Chinese government system.

    The party constitution is vague on the issue of term limits of its general secretary. In the past two years, there have been hints at the scrapping of age limits. In October 2016 , a senior party leader Deng Maosheng said that the concept of term limits were “pure folklore.” There have been several other instances of the age limits being revised for senior leaders.

    However, the 19th Party Congress in October 2017 stuck to the established convention by retiring leaders who had crossed or were approaching the age of 68. Among these was CCDI chief Wang. Significantly, the new politburo standing committee did not see the promotion of any leader who looked likely to succeed Xi in 2023. This was a departure from the post-Deng norm where successors were more or less identifiable well in advance.

    More germane to the current issue, the party constitution was amended to introduce Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. By juxtaposing it with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, it virtually made Xi’s pronouncements as the working guide of the party in this era.

    This was a huge departure from the party norms set by Deng Xiaoping to stabilise the Chinese system after the ravages of the Mao era. This means that Xi, as long as he is alive, is the dominant figure in the party because his theory guides it in the new era. Now, with the authority of the Presidency as well, Xi is set to be the supreme ruler of China into the foreseeable future.

    China today is the strongest it has been since the 18th Century and is set to become even more powerful in the coming decades. Xi has already set the benchmarks— a moderately prosperous country by 2020, fully modern socialist society by 2035, and attain the China Dream of being a “prosperous, powerful, democratic, harmonious and beautiful socialist modern country” by 2050.

    But by extending his term into the future Xi is putting personal power over the institutional process that has been working quite well in China for the past decades. By taking all the reins of power in his own hands, Xi assumes enormous personal responsibility for virtually everything happening in China, good or bad. Taking more and more titles and power may actually be a sign that he is not being able push through his policies in the manner he wants.

    Experience around the world, whether in democracies or authoritarian systems, is that leaders usually begin to pall after about a decade and so, this development could actually signal the potential for instability in China in the coming period.
    CPC proposes change on Chinese president's term in Constitution

  5. #20
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    Xi Sets China on a Collision Course With History

    There was always something different about China’s version of authoritarianism. For decades, as other regimes collapsed or curdled into dysfunctional pretend democracies, China’s held strong, even prospered.

    Yes, China’s Communist Party has been vigorous in suppressing dissent and crushing potential challenges. But some argue that it has survived in part by developing unusually strong institutions, bound by strict rules and norms. Two of the most important have been collective leadership — rule by consensus rather than strongman — and term limits.

    When the Communist Party announced this week that it would end presidential term limits, allowing Xi Jinping to hold office indefinitely, it shattered those norms. It may also have accelerated what many scholars believe is China’s collision course with the forces of history it has so long managed to evade.

    That history suggests that Beijing’s leaders are on what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once called a “fool’s errand”: trying to uphold a system of government that cannot survive in the modern era. But Mr. Xi, by shifting toward a strongman style of rule, is doubling down on the idea that China is different and can refashion an authoritarianism for this age.

    If he succeeds, he will not only have secured his own future and extended the future of China’s Communist Party, he may also establish a new model for authoritarianism to thrive worldwide.

    The Harder Kind of Dictatorship
    If Mr. Xi stays in office for life, as many now expect, that will only formalize a process he has undertaken for years: stripping power away from China’s institutions and accumulating it for himself.

    It helps to mentally divide dictatorships into two categories: institutional and personalist. The first operates through committees, bureaucracies and something like consensus. The second runs through a single charismatic leader.

    China, once an almost Socratic ideal of the first model, is increasingly a hybrid of both. Mr. Xi has made himself “the dominant actor in financial regulation and environmental policy” as well as economic policy, according to a paper by Barry Naughton, a China scholar at the University of California, San Diego.

    Mr. Xi has also led sweeping anti-corruption campaigns that have disproportionately purged members of rival political factions, strengthening himself but undermining China’s consensus-driven approach.

    This version of authoritarianism is harder to maintain, according to research by Erica Frantz, a scholar of authoritarianism at Michigan State University. “In general, personalization is not a good development,” Ms. Frantz said.

    The downsides are often subtle. Domestic politics tend to be more volatile, governing more erratic and foreign policy more aggressive, studies find. But the clearest risk comes with succession.

    “There’s a question I like to ask Russia specialists: ‘If Putin has a heart attack tomorrow, what happens?’” said Milan Svolik, a Yale University political scientist. “Nobody knows.”

    “In China, up until now, the answer to that had been very clear,” he said. A dead leader would have left behind a set of widely agreed rules for what was to be done and there would be a political consensus on how to do it.

    “This change seems to disrupt that,” Mr. Svolik said. Mr. Xi, by defying the norms of succession, has shown that any rule could be broken. “The key norm, once that’s out, it seems like everything’s an option,” Mr. Svolik said.

    Factional purges risk shifting political norms from consensus to zero-sum, and sometimes life-or-death, infighting.

    And Mr. Xi is undermining the institutionalism that made China’s authoritarianism unusually resilient. Collective leadership and orderly succession, both put in place after Mao Zedong’s disastrous tenure, have allowed for relatively effective and stable governing.

    Ken Opalo, a Georgetown University political scientist, wrote after China’s announcement that orderly transitions were “perhaps the most important indicator of political development.” Lifelong presidencies, he said, “freeze specific groups of elites out of power. And remove incentives for those in power to be accountable and innovate.”

    What Makes Authoritarian Legitimacy
    In 2005, Bruce Gilley, a political scientist, wrestled with one of the most important questions for any government — is it viewed by its citizens as legitimate? — into a numerical score, determined by sophisticated measurements of how those citizens behave.

    China, his study found, enjoyed higher legitimacy than many democracies and every other non-democracy besides Azerbaijan. He credited economic growth, nationalist sentiment and collective leadership.

    But when Mr. Gilley revisited his metrics in 2012, he found that China’s score had plummeted.

    His data showed the leading edge of a force long thought to doom China’s system. Known as “modernization theory,” it says that once citizens reach a certain level of wealth, they will demand things like public accountability, free expression and a role in government. Authoritarian states, unable to meet these demands, either transition to democracy or collapse amid unrest.

    This challenge, overcome by no other modern authoritarian regime except those wealthy enough to buy off their citizens, requires new sources of legitimacy. Economic growth is slowing. Nationalism, though once effective at rallying support, is increasingly difficult to control and prone to backfiring. Citizen demands are growing.

    So China is instead promoting “ideology and collective social values” that equate the government with Chinese culture, according to research by the China scholar Heike Holbig and Mr. Gilley. Patriotic songs and school textbooks have proliferated. So have mentions of “Xi Jinping Thought,” now an official ideology.

    Mr. Xi’s personalization of power seems to borrow from both old-style strongmen and the new-style populists rising among the world’s democracies.

    But, in this way, it is a high-risk and partial solution to China’s needs. A cult of personality can do for a few years or perhaps decades, but not more.

    ‘Accountability Without Democracy’

    China is experimenting with a form of authoritarianism that, if successful, could close the seemingly unbridgeable gap between what its citizens demand and what it can deliver.

    Authoritarian governments are, by definition, unaccountable. But some towns and small cities in China are opening limited, controlled channels of public participation. For example, a program called “Mayor’s Mailboxes” allows citizens to voice demands or complaints, and rewards officials who comply.

    The program, one study found, significantly improved the quality of governing and citizens’ happiness with the state. No one would call these towns democratic. But it felt enough like democracy to satisfy some.

    This sort of innovation began with local communities that expressed their will through limited but persistent dissent and protest. Lily L. Tsai, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scholar, termed it “accountability without democracy.”

    Now, some officials are adapting this once-resisted trend into deliberate practice. Their goal is not to bring about liberalization but to resist it — to “siphon off popular discontent without destabilizing the system as a whole,” the China scholars Vivienne Shue and Patricia M. Thornton write in a new book on governing in China.

    Most Chinese, Beijing seems to hope, will accept authoritarian rule if it delivers at least some of the benefits promised by democracy: moderately good government, somewhat responsive officials and free speech within sharp bounds. Citizens who demand more face censorship and oppression that can be among the harshest in the world.

    That new sort of system could do more than overcome China’s conflict with the forces of history. It could provide a model of authoritarianism to thrive globally, showing, Ms. Shue and Ms. Thornton write, “how non-democracies may not only survive but succeed over time.”

    But Mr. Xi’s power grab, by undermining institutions and promoting all-or-nothing factionalism, risks making that sort of innovation riskier and more difficult.

    When leaders consolidate power for themselves, Ms. Frantz said, “over time their ability to get a good read on the country’s political climate diminishes.”

    Such complications are why Thomas Pepinsky, a Cornell University political scientist, wrote on Twitter, “I’m no China expert, but centralizing power in the hands of one leader sounds like the most typical thing that a decaying authoritarian state would do.”

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    Honestly, the Presidency is just symbolic, since holding control of the CCP is Xi's actual center of political gravity.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
    Honestly, the Presidency is just symbolic, since holding control of the CCP is Xi's actual center of political gravity.
    So what is the problem here ?

    Xi being able to hold control of the CCP or CCP being able to hold control of China

    If Xi grabs all these titles means he is weak and by centralising everything it means the CCP is too

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    A conversation between David Drum and Minxing Or I:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/554795/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    So what is the problem here ?

    Xi being able to hold control of the CCP or CCP being able to hold control of China

    If Xi grabs all these titles means he is weak and by centralising everything it means the CCP is too
    So he can deal with foreigners, would be my guess.

    It would have been a lot smarter just to extend the term limits to three, though.

  10. #25
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
    So he can deal with foreigners, would be my guess.
    Now that just makes him look weaker still : (

    There is a fair degree of autonomy going on in various parts and branches of govt. Not everything is sanctioned or in Beijing's control. This is the part that is hardest to grasp.

    Welcome to the new Xi-tocracy
    Last edited by Double Edge; 09 Mar 18, at 09:59.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
    So he can deal with foreigners, would be my guess.

    It would have been a lot smarter just to extend the term limits to three, though.
    Dealing with foreigners is very low on the list of priorities; it’s usually left to the Chief Barbarian Handler (Foreign Minister).
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  12. #27
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    China silences critics of move to make Xi Jinping president for life

    BEIJING: The day China's ruling Communist Party unveiled a proposal to allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely as Mao Zedong did a generation ago, Ma Bo was so shaken he couldn't sleep.

    So Ma, a renowned writer, wrote a social media post urging the party to remember the history of unchecked one-man rule that ended in catastrophe.

    "History is regressing badly," Ma thundered in his post. "As a Chinese of conscience, I cannot stay silent!"

    Censors silenced him anyway, swiftly wiping his post from the internet.

    As China's rubber-stamp legislature prepares to approve constitutional changes abolishing term limits for the president + on Sunday, signs of dissent and biting satire have been all but snuffed out. The stifling censorship leaves intellectuals, young white-collar workers and retired veterans of past political campaigns using roundabout ways to voice their concerns. For many, it's a foreshadowing of greater political repression ahead.

    The result has been a surreal political atmosphere laced with fear, confusion, and even moments of dark comedy that undermines the picture of swelling popular support for the measure being peddled relentlessly by state media.

    "There's a lot of fear," said Ma, who writes under the pen name Old Ghost. "People know that Xi is about to become the emperor, so they don't dare cross his path. Most people are just watching, observing."

    Once passed, the constitutional amendment would upend a system enacted by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent a return to the bloody excesses of a lifelong dictatorship typified by Mao Zedong's chaotic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

    Party media say the proposed amendment is only aimed at bringing the office of the president in line with Xi's other positions atop the party and the Central Military Commission, which do not impose term limits.

    After Ma's post on Chinese social media went viral two weeks ago, the 70-year-old writer decided to switch to Twitter, which can only be accessed inside China using a virtual private network, to continue issuing warnings about China moving dangerously backward.

    "The police have not visited me yet," he told The Associated Press on Friday from his Beijing home. "But I'm preparing for it."

    Ma remains in the capital, but some well-known dissidents and potential troublemakers have already been "holidayed" - bundled off to faraway cities, their travel expenses paid by state security. Retired elders from the Communist Party's liberal wing have been warned to stay quiet.

    The government's censorship apparatus had to spring into action after the term limit proposal was unveiled, suppressing keywords on social media ranging from "I disagree" to "shameless" to "Xi Zedong." Even the letter "N" was blocked after it was used as part of an equation for the number of terms Xi might serve.

    Yet, occasionally, dissent has surfaced through the cracks.

    On Wednesday, International Women's Day, law students at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing _ Xi's alma mater _ hung red banners that ostensibly celebrated the school's female classmates but also satirized national politics.

    "I love you without any term limits, but if there are, we can just remove them," read one, while another banner declared that "A country can't survive without a constitution, we can't go on without you."

    University administrators weren't amused. A student witness said the banners were quickly removed and notices posted requiring campus shops to register students who use printers to make large banners.

    Chinese studying overseas have been more blunt. Posts in recent days popped up at the University of California, San Diego, with Xi's picture and the text "Never My President" and spread to more than eight overseas universities, said Lebao Wu, a student at Australian National University in Canberra.

    To be sure, Xi's confident, populist leadership style and tough attitude towards official corruption has won him a significant degree of popular support.

    Sipping on a Starbucks drink in Beijing's business district on Friday, a 56-year-old surnamed Zhang - who works in insurance - said citizens desired
    freedom, but wanted a powerful leader who could deliver stability and wealth even more.

    Letting Xi rule indefinitely "will strengthen the party's leadership and offer the quickest path towards development," Zhang said. "We need a powerful leader. People need an emperor in their hearts. The Western idea that you are not alive unless you are free has not taken root in people's hearts."

    However, a 35-year old IT industry worker surnamed Huang said her friends were concerned about China returning to the Mao era.

    "I saw on (state broadcaster) CCTV's evening news that they were saying everyone fully supports the constitutional amendments, but no one asked us for our opinion. Our opinion is quickly censored," she said. "This is China. What can we do about it?"

    Neither would give their full names as is common among Chinese when commenting on politics.

    Even some of the government's most outspoken critics have been reluctant to loudly criticize the constitutional amendment.

    He Weifang, a well-known blogger and law professor at Peking University, limited his remarks this week to the observance that the constitutional amendment proposal contained 21 articles, and if a delegate supported some articles but opposed others, he or she was entitled to vote against it.

    He, who lost his job once for supporting the late dissident writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, declined to discuss the term limit amendment, saying the subject was "a bit sensitive."

    Others haven't held back, driven by an urgent sense that their country is at a crucial point in its history.

    Li Datong, a former editor of the China Youth Daily state newspaper and one of the few voices of open opposition, said delegates know the amendment is wrong but no one has the courage to speak out. He compared Chinese citizens to Germans who allowed Adolf Hitler to seize power in the 1930s.

    "I know that just a few ordinary Chinese citizens coming out and expressing their opinion will not change anything, but I'm doing this so I can face the future generations," Li said.

    "When they look back at this time, I don't want them to say, `Not a single person in China stood up and opposed this.' When people talk about Nazi Germany, they always ask why the people living during that time didn't do anything about it," Li said. "I want to be able to face my past."

    In the run-up to the vote, Congress delegates have lavished extra praise on Xi. The party boss of a northwestern province that contains a significant Tibetan population compared him to a living Buddhist deity.

    "If you do good things for the people, bring good lives to the people, you should be able to keep serving forever," said Zhou Shuying, an artist and delegate representing a rural county about 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of Beijing.

    "I'm speaking from the bottom of my heart," she said, then paused to make sure reporters heard her clearly. "I'm really speaking from the heart."

  13. #28
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    After Ma's post on Chinese social media went viral two weeks ago, the 70-year-old writer decided to switch to Twitter, which can only be accessed inside China using a virtual private network, to continue issuing warnings about China moving dangerously backward.

    "The police have not visited me yet," he told The Associated Press on Friday from his Beijing home. "But I'm preparing for it."

    Ma remains in the capital, but some well-known dissidents and potential troublemakers have already been "holidayed" - bundled off to faraway cities, their travel expenses paid by state security. Retired elders from the Communist Party's liberal wing have been warned to stay quiet.
    I doubt anything will happen to him, if he requires a VPN to access Twitter and most do not have one then not many people inside China will see what he wrote. Just people outside China which the CCP isn't worried about

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Dealing with foreigners is very low on the list of priorities; it’s usually left to the Chief Barbarian Handler (Foreign Minister).
    Xi seems to place a lot on person to person relations when dealing with heads of states, more so than Hu or Jiang did.

  15. #30
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
    Xi seems to place a lot on person to person relations when dealing with heads of states, more so than Hu or Jiang did.
    Perhaps, but, that’s not what I wrote about.
    It isn’t about whether Xi deals with foreigner leaders head-to-head (they’ve all done that).
    It’s about whether how one deals with foreigners matters in inner party machinations.
    Trust me?
    I'm an economist!

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