The Communist Party of China (CPC) on Sunday proposed eliminating a constitutional clause that limits presidential service to two consecutive terms, a move that would allow Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely.
Carrying the announcement on the planned removal of presidential term limits, the official Xinhua news agency said the proposal had been made by the party’s Central Committee, Reuters reports.
According to the state media, the proposal also covers the vice president position.
Xi, 64, is currently required by China’s constitution to step down as president after two five-year terms.
Nearing the end of his first term, he will be formally elected to a second at the annual meeting of China’s rubber-stamp parliament that will begin an annual session on March 5.
There has been persistent speculation that Xi wants to stay on in office past the customary two five-year terms.
Xi began his second term as head of the party and military in October at the end of a party congress held once every five years.
The October party congress ended without appointing a clear eventual successor for Xi.
Since taking office more than five years ago, Xi has overseen a radical shake-up of the party, including taking down top leaders once thought untouchable as part of his war on corruption.
Xi is currently the party’s general secretary, but not chairman.
China’s first three leaders after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 all carried the title party chairman -Mao Zedong, Hua Guofeng and then Hu Yaobang. It has not been used since.
“Whether Xi ends up being Party Chairman or just remains Party Secretary doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether he holds onto power,” Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told Reuters.
“Titles don’t matter as much in China as they do in the West. Here what matters is whether you are the emperor,” he added. “In China, ordinary people already consider Xi Jinping to be the emperor.”
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