Following Mao Zedong’s death in 1976– In light of the cultural revolution and Civil War in China which killed tens of thousands of people– his successor decentralized power from the hand’s of one-man to a handful of high-ranking Party officials. Creating hope that China would eventually make a move towards a real and stable democracy. However, in a move that has shocked the world, the Communist Party of China (CCP) on Sunday abolished the presidential term limit and cleared the way for its present party head and the President of China to become a virtual dictator. Though the People’s Republic of China has always belonged to the communist party, the recent power-grabbing move by Xi Jinping has now officially converted it back into a one-man state. Ever since he took power in late 2012, Jinping has been consolidating his power on both the national and party level. Be it his vow for a “great rejuvenation” to restore China to its ancient prominence and glory, strengthing it military or spreading China’s diplomatic sphere of influence by a well-planned debt mechanism, he had made it clear that he means business. And by using the anti-graft campaign as a tool to go after the members of the Shanghai clique, he has showcased his capabilities to his political opponents.
While this move may seem to be a sign of growing power and influence of Xi Jinping, it could actually be a sign of weakness. A sign that showcases his inability or unwillingness to face a political opponent and his lust for absolute power. A move that could reduce his popularity and potentially make him more vulnerable to criticism if things go south for China. The 2 term limit on the presidents by the CCP had insured smooth power transitions that served the Party well for 35 years and enabled it to avoid damaging schisms that have plagued other Communist regimes. However, this move essentially negates this institutionalization and has lead to the feeling of resentment amongst his party members. A feeling that might as well lead to some high octane drama in the near future and spur instability in the world’s most populous country. Although the world has not yet fully understood the graveness of this situation, the Chinese people have already started to feel the burn. The “Great Firewall” swiftly censored and controlled the flurry of discussion and criticism on Chinese social media and comments on posts by state broadcaster CCTV announcing the news was deleted. As were those on the People’s Daily newspaper, Xinhua news agency, and searches for key terms like”Winnie the Pooh,”, “ascension to the throne,” and “term limits” were blocked.
The woes of a strong man Jinping, however, is not just restricted within the Chinese borders. With his aim to convert the vision of a “Chinese Century” into reality, China’s smaller neighbors in the South China Sea region are also in for some rough weather. A more dominant and adventurous Chinese army with Jinping by its side could very well bully the nations in the South China Sea region and grab more territory. In line for some tough time is South Korea, Jinping, till date, has shown little interest in resolving the Korean Crisis and with the hopes of a new leader in China fading away it would be interesting to see the turn of events in the Korean peninsula. With America stuck with a president having limited diplomatic or administrative experience and Xi Jinping only awaiting approval from China’s rubber-stamp parliament to rule the country with an iron fist. The next couple of years could see a dramatic change in the power dynamics of the world. A change that Chinas influential neighbors like India and Japan are anxious about and a change that could potentially lead to the rise of a new superpower.