Expert views: PRC constitution

China’s National People's Congress (NPC) has voted to remove presidential terms limits by 2,958 in favour and two against (with three abstentions), potentially allowing President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. The NPC is meeting from 5 to 20 March to vote on a number of proposed constitutional changes.

The change comes after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee announced proposed amendments to the PRC’s constitution.

The term limit change is getting the most attention. But there are further notable amendments, including the incorporation  of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” into the constitution. Further language highlighting the role of the Party and socialist values has also been included.

Other proposed changes deal with the consolidation and development of the United Front, building a “community with a shared future for humanity”, and the addition of the sentence “The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics”. To keep up with developments, check out NPC Observer.

The removal of term limits confirmed speculation that the CCP would open a path for President Xi Jinping to extend his tenure beyond the two five-year terms that had been the norm since constitutional changes introduced in 1982. The 1982 change, led by Deng Xiaoping, was a response to the long rule of Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.

The changes have been met with pushback in some quarters, including on social media.

Check out expert opinion on what the changes mean in the links below. New Zealand media are welcome to republish the commentators' analyses in their reporting.

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– Asia Media Centre