TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Feb. 25 it was reported that China’s top law making body is preparing to alter the country’s constitution, which will allow Xi Jinping to remain in office well beyond the current maximum of 10 years.
While most agree that scrapping term limits for Xi Jinping is a poor decision, different scholars see different possible results following such a constitutional amendment.
A group of scholars have promptly reacted with dismay in a joint statement, rejecting such a measure by the Chinese government and Xi Jinping, and raising an alarm for Chinese citizens and others to come forward in opposition as well.
The statement says that such a measure will recreate an imperial model of governance, creating a “tenure” system of leadership where top state officials may never be removed from office.
The letter implores Chinese citizens to stand up in opposition to Xi Jinping’s “political conspiracy.”
CNA reports that a group of professors and pro-democracy activists including Wang Dan (王丹), Professor Xia Ming (夏明) at New York City University, and Chinese dissidents in exile Hu Ping(胡平), Su Xiaokang (蘇曉康), Wuer Kaixi (吾爾開希), and Xia Yeliang (夏業良) were all signatories of the statement.
“Unlimited power of the state is inseparable from tyranny, and will bring ruin upon the nation. To avoid such disaster human societies have over time adopted democratic thinking, thereby establishing constitutional democracies,” the statement reads.
The statement declares the change to the constitution would be a complete regression of the social progress that has been accomplished in China over the past 40 years, since the reign of Mao Zedong.
While the news and possible deterioration of constitutional government in China is certainly alarming, other scholars and analysts think there could actually be a silver lining to be found, at least where Chinese policy towards Taiwan is concerned.
An analyst for the U.S. think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, Bonnie Glaser, suggests that if the change is finalized, then in the short term, the status quo across the Taiwan Strait is likely to be maintained without major shifts.
However, Glaser does still believe that given time Xi Jinping has every intention of changing the status quo. However, if his time as supreme leader is extended indefinitely, the Taiwan issue for the moment will become less pressing.
Jacques Delisle, director for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, echoes Glaser’s observations and notes that China’s positioning towards Taiwan tends to shift with the leaders in power, so extending Xi’s power would likely extend the current status quo as well.
However, the report from Liberty Times does remark that while annexing Taiwan may not be an immediate concern for the Chinese government while Xi is busy consolidating his power, once Xi’s long-term grip on power is secure, the status quo between China and Taiwan could potentially shift quickly and dramatically into dangerous territory.