Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Executive power in China

Chris Buckley, writing in The New York Times, tries to outline Xi Jinping's exercise of power.

How Xi Jinping Made His Power Grab: With Stealth, Speed and Guile
Some 200 senior Communist Party officials [the Central Committee] gathered behind closed doors in January to take up a momentous political decision: whether to abolish presidential term limits and enable Xi Jinping to lead China for a generation.

In a two-day session in Beijing, they bowed to Mr. Xi’s wish to hold onto power indefinitely. But a bland communiqué issued afterward made no mention of the weighty decision, which the authorities then kept under wraps for more than five weeks…

The decision was abruptly announced only last week, days before the annual session of China’s legislature…

The congress is all but certain to approve the change… sweeping away a rule that restricts presidents to two five-year terms and has been in the Constitution for 35 years…

Mr. Xi deployed speed, secrecy and intimidation to smother potential opposition inside and outside the party… He installed loyalists to draft and support the amendments. And he kept the whole process under the tight control of the party, allowing little debate, even internally…

Previous rounds of constitutional amendments in China took much longer and involved at least the trappings of public discussion…

By contrast, Mr. Xi first announced that he wanted to make constitutional changes in December…

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