“While it’s possible that Mr. Xi is taking more time to pick an heir, there are indications that he intends to break with custom and hold on to his role as head of the party beyond the 10-year term.
In recent months, Mr. Xi has promoted many allies in key government and party positions to fill slots vacated by retired or purged rivals. He has been overhauling the military, making it more difficult for generals to disobey or to stage a coup. Neither Mao Zedong nor Deng Xiaoping was able to achieve such control.
The Communist Party charter does not impose term limits for its top leader. The 10-year limit is based on an unwritten custom.
Mr. Xi has no formidable rivals. He has used the anticorruption drive to purge disloyal party and military leaders, and to weaken his fellow Politburo Standing Committee members. Party elders are too old or too weak to cause him trouble.
Mr. Xi’s best option for extending power is to overhaul the Communist Party’s system of governance. Over the past year, think tanks and constitutional scholars are said to have conducted secret studies on how to legitimately prolong Mr. Xi’s rule. Some scholars, including Cao Siyuan, have suggested adopting an electoral presidential system tailored for China.
It may seem far-fetched, but such a system would grant Mr. Xi the legitimacy and public support he craves to stay in power. Without the legitimacy of an election, even a flawed one by Western standards, he would have to step down in 2022 or flagrantly ignore the party rules, and turn himself into a dictator who lives in constant fear of being toppled.
In transitioning to an electoral system, Mr. Xi could change China’s Constitution by the end of his term in 2022 to strengthen the power of the president. Once the president is given control of the government and the military, Mr. Xi could abolish the Politburo Standing Committee, shed his title as general secretary of the party, and run for a newly empowered presidency.”
Posted in AP China | Comments Off on How Xi Jinping Can Avoid Becoming a Dictator
The run-up to the Sept. 4 election for Legislative Council is getting tense, and the governments of both Hong Kong and Beijing are watching with keen interest. For the first time, a crop of fresh-faced candidates who cut their political teeth during the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014 are hoping to bring to the lawmaking body their battle to emancipate Hong Kong from Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian control.
The activists, most of whom are in their 20s, no longer believe in the promises of the “one country, two systems” principle set out in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997. Even after paralyzing major traffic hubs in the city for 79 days in 2014, they failed to obtain any concession to democratize the rules by which the head of Hong Kong’s government, the chief executive, is nominated and elected. They concluded from the experience that democracy is impossible in Hong Kong as long as the territory remains under Chinese sovereignty…
However many paratroopers are allowed to run for LegCo, their emergence has already changed Hong Kong’s political scene. It no longer is a two-way contest between the pro-establishment camp and the pan-democratic camp, both of which endorse some version of the “one country” ideology and, each in its own way, considers itself to be patriotic to the mainland. Hong Kong politics is now a three-way affair, with separatism the new force to be reckoned with.
BEIJING—Acknowledging that its current programs are insufficient to meet the needs of a fast-paced, 21st-century population, the Chinese Ministry of Justice held a press conference Friday affirming its commitment to fixing the nation’s crumbling reeducation system.
According to government officials, the steady decline in the quality of reeducation is evidenced by the system’s serious overcrowding, dilapidated correctional facilities, and outdated propaganda materials, which have left a large percentage of China’s political prisoners unprepared for life as obedient citizens.
After China’s state-run news agency Xinhua posted the music video online overnight, it’s gone viral. A quick listen to the lyrics makes Communist centralized economic planning seem cheery:
Hey have you guys heard about what’s going on in China? / President Xi Jinping’s new style? / Yes! And there’s more! / The Shi San Wu! / The what? / China’s 13th five-year plan! / Yeah! The Shi San Wu! / Oh! / Every five years in China, man, they make a new development plan…
The video raises a lot of questions, like: Why are hippies with guitars and bongo drums atop a VW bus singing about China’s 13th five-year plan?
Or: Why did Xinhua think this would appeal to foreigners?
Or, simply: Why?
Posted in AP China | Comments Off on What’s China gonna do? Better check this music video
People everywhere are better off living in liberal democracy: that has been the reigning assumption of the western world. But could it be we’ve got it wrong? If you were one of the world’s billions of poor peasants might you not be better off under a system dedicated to political stability and economic growth – one that has lifted 400 million out of poverty – rather than one preoccupied with human rights, the rule of law, and the chance to vote out unpopular rulers?
So is China better off without democracy? Or is that just the age-old mantra of the tyrant?
Speakers for the motion
Author of When China Rules the World, visiting senior research fellow at the London School of Economics, and visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing
Senior Fellow at the Chunqiu Institute, author of The China Wave: the Rise of a Civilizational State, and former translator to Deng Xiaoping
Speakers against the motion
Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong and campaigner for democracy
Historian of China, and former China correspondent for The Observer and East Asia editor of The Times
Come to class with detailed notes from this debate. Your notes should detail:
The speaker’s arguments
Evidence deployed to substantiate his/her arguments
Rebuttals made to 2 and/or 3 above
Though you may type or write your notes, use this note organizer. Your notes will be collected and assessed.
Watch (or listen to) the entire program; the first 55 minutes is opening speeches, the second 45 minutes is debate and closing remarks.
We will continue the debate over this motion in class. Come to class decided on the motion. But be prepared to argue both sides in class, as I might choose to assign sides.