China’s surprise proposal to eliminate presidential term limits represents a savvy political endgame of President Xi’s efforts to consolidate power. The astute timing in announcing this proposal just prior to Xi formally assuming his second 5-year term makes it a fait accompli with minimal pushback.
President Xi’s swift ascension by securing the ultimate political high ground is the Communist Party’s foresight to reinforce political, economic and civil stability as a protective measure in order to successfully face the challenges of the inevitable global recession and exploding debt. These factors will soon threaten China’s long period of successful unprecedented growth. For this reason the leadership believes a unified government policy with a One Man, One Rule leadership is best equipped to contain the economic downturn – specifically the nasty business of “crowd control” – civil unrest in a country with a population of 1.3 billion.
Xi’s increasing influence and control in all sectors of military and economy make each major sector a monolithic machine whose leadership profess unquestioned loyalty and carry out suppression of the slightest, even perceived, dissent.
With respect to the latter, because China does not face invasion threats, they are streamlining the People’s Liberation Army with shorter and stronger chains of command based on personal loyalty to the party and Xi himself. Finally, China is bolstering their blue water navy to protect their energy imports.
Additionally China has unfinished business such as the construction and completion of the One Belt, One Road initiative, an economic and political mega-project. Not only does this mega-project serve China’s economic needs, it also serves their long-term politically needs by linking numerous pro-China countries along the route. Interestingly many of these same countries are so economically indebted to China through loans, China, in lieu of payment, may have the right to secure the rights to critical infrastructure such as ports. Because this project is Xi’s cornerstone policy, a one man rule can insure its continued, unencumbered progress.
A darker perspective to XI’s power grab is that the inner circle leadership is aware of the gravity of a forthcoming global economic crisis that could rip China apart internally. China is a massive country with many ethnic groups who feel discriminated against. Some have aggressively challenged China’s internal security specifically in the non-Han western regions. For this reason, Xi as de facto dictator and his far-reaching power consolidations as previously mentioned represent an omnipotent leadership with few political challenges in order that he can carry out his policies rapidly and ruthlessly.
Interestingly the historical dictatorship game encourages creativity by creating rivalries amongst competing government departments without endangering its own position. These party-loyal departments compete against one another for the purposes of gaining the most influence and preferential treatment from the leader.
Counter-intuitively China’s forthcoming the one man leadership role is more effective in controlling extreme political (nationalistic) elements that creates a more stable political environment. Government members vetted and chosen by Xi himself insures that they represent his policies.
This political consolidation represents a “one-stop business/diplomatic shopping” that benefits the west because any and all Chinese government and private representatives in their respective fields are on the same page as President Xi which removes ambiguities. This creates greater short-term political and economic stability which reduces risk, but simultaneously sows the seeds of his demise down the road. In sum Xi will soon be held directly accountable for all of China’s policies, or in other words, “The yuan stops here.”