China’s parliament unanimously re-elected (March 17) Xi Jinping as the country’s president. Former top graft-buster (government’s anti corruption crusader) Wang Qishan, a key ally of President Xi Jinping, was also chosen as vice president on the same day. a widely-expected move that nonetheless breaks with convention and underlines Xi’s dominant authority.The legislature is dominated by h delegates loyal to the ruling Communist Party. Therefore, Xi’s re-election was never in doubt. On March 18 parliament voted to amend the constitution to remove presidential term limits, meaning Xi can stay indefinitely.
Implications of re-election of Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping was unanimously reelected president of China, and chairman of the Central Military Committee. The Chinese legislature also eliminated term limits, effectively positioning Xi to serve as president for life. These developments make him the most powerful leader of the world. Xi Jinping, 64, is considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong and he was given the right to continue in office indefinitely after the legislature scrapped term limits for the president and vice president through a constitutional amendment on March 18. Chinese officials defended the move saying it would bring the presidency in-line with Xi’s other two main positions of head of the ruling Communist Party and commander of the armed forces. Xi, who was first elected president in 2013, is among a new generation of leaders who have found ways either to eliminate restrictions on continuing in office, or to continue as premier leader by switching titles. Critics say the move overturning a push to institutionalize China’s ruling practices dating from 1982 will likely lead to increased political repression and possible infighting among party factions seeking to promote their own candidates within the closed system.
Implications of Wang Qishan’s appointment
Known as “the firefighter” for his central role in tackling issues like corruption and domestic financial problems over the years, Wang also has experience dealing with the United States in his former role as a vice premier who led annual economic talks with Washington. He was a major player in Xi’s battle against corruption, with dozens of senior officials jailed during his tenure as the top graft-fighter, including the fearsome domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, now serving life in jail. Wang’s appointment has the potential to reshape what has traditionally been a ceremonial role. China’s relationship with the United States is likely to be a key part of his remit, according to diplomats and sources with ties to the leadership.
Xi Jinping’s Agenda
In October 2017 President Xi Jinping spent 3.5 hours delivering his maiden political report at the 19th Communist Party (October 18, 2017) congress, outlining his vision for the next five years of development in China. He highlighted the mounting uncertainties and challenges the world is facing, such as regional and economic instability, a widening wealth gap, terrorism, major epidemics, cyberspace insecurity and climate change. In a reference to the rising protectionism and anti-globalisation sentiment in the US and Europe as well as the decline in US global leadership under President Donald Trump, Xi said:”No country alone can handle all the challenges that mankind faces and no country can retreat into self-isolation.” He called on the “peoples of all countries to join China’s effort to build a common destiny for mankind and enduring peace and stability”. Xi also pledges that China will continue its peaceful and independent foreign policy, uphold international justice and refrain from interfering into other countries’ domestic affairs. He also added, “China will never advance itself at the expense of interests of other nations, but we will never give up our lawful rights.” In another bid to ease growing concerns among China’s neighbours about the intentions behind its rapid military buildup, he says Beijing will maintain a defensive policy when it comes to national security. He assured that “China’s growth does not pose threats to any nations and China will never pursue hegemony or seek expansionist policies” even if China rises to become an international power.” Xi did not name any particular country in his policy address, and gave no details on Beijing’s policy towards the US or major hotspots such as North Korea.
At present China warned the US against trade war and said the latter to work hard and complaint less. On South China Sea, it wants bilaterally finding solutions with the stake holders rather than any international arbitration or US led solution. On North Korean issue China supports a negotiated solution and not arm twisting by world powers. It does not favour in case of Iran unilateral scrapping of the nuclear deal by the US. In Syria, China wants the world powers to find a consensus based solution to end the Civil war. With its deep pocket and economic engagements through the BRI and AIIB initiatives, China is steadily following the dictum of peaceful rise. But there are doubts about Chinese capacity to help and support the cause of democracy and human rights. Its corporate governance is also poor, especially in its joint ventures or FDI outside. India finds China’s strategy of encircling India and efforts for domination in the Indian Ocean region disturbing besides its reservations regarding sovereignty issues in China’s CPEC project with Pakistan.