China's Communist Party mulls end to two-term limit for president

The same person also holds the title of the chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Xi is also general secretary of the CPC's Central Committee, the center of the party's power. Under current law, presidents are only allowed to serve two five-year terms, meaning the 64-year-old Xi would have to leave office at the end of his second term in 2023.

The possibility of Xi becoming China's leader for life has been increasingly clear since he outlined a major blueprint for the country's development during a communist party congress late previous year. Still, the formal move to amend the constitution was surprising as it represents a clear break from the succession practices set up to establish stability after the political tumult of Mao Zedong's reign.

Beijing Institute of Technology economics professor and political commentator Hu Xingdou (胡星斗) said while Xi might need an extra five-year term or two to carry out his plans, the country is unlikely to return to an era of lifetime tenure for heads of state.

"Xi can do the latter as general secretary of the Communist Party, and he has put himself in a very powerful position to do that at the 19th Congress", said Tsang. In other words, the world of Mao Zedong must never threaten the path of modern China, nor must people become downtrodden based on the political whims of an all-encompassing ruler who dictates to the masses.

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The proposal is also announced one day before it begins, as Xinhua had published this weekend, third plenary of Central committee, which is expected to announce important appointments among senior government officials.

Deng said the move sent an obvious message about Xi's intention.

Last October during annual Congress feared former head of the anti-graft agency, Wang Qishan had stepped down from the Standing Committee. Traditionally, Chinese leaders' powers weaken once they approach the second half of their second term, they said.

Since then, all organs of the party have declared him as the topmost leader of the party, setting aside the principle of collective party leadership that was followed in the last three decades. Wang, 69, stepped down from a party position a year ago because of his age.

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He put Wang in charge of a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown that helped Xi eliminate challengers, both serving and retired, and cow potential opponents.

The constitution will further ensure that party control over the country is not in any doubt, too, strengthening existing clauses about the leading role of the Communist Party in China.

"The leaders said the current structure of the party and state institutions was not good enough to meet the requirements for various tasks of the new era", Xinhua said, citing a Saturday meeting of the 25-member Politburo.

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  • Ryan Wade