President Xi's power jab should concern us

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The People's Republic of China, from the days of its birth, would not be viewed as the world's best example of governance. Indeed, no State dominated by communism could be considered a poster child of democracy; both systems can be considered diametrically opposed.

The behemoth which is the Chinese State has been heavily controlled by the Communist Party of China for decades. This is no more evident than in the fact that the general secretary of the party customarily becomes president and head of State.

Since the reformatory days of Deng Xiaoping, most presidents of China have served two-consecutive, five-year terms, after which they are shuttled out of the presidency, creating space for new leadership. This practice, some would say, is the closest to a sliver of democracy which is exercised within the Chinese State. This practice of rotation has been conquered by current office holder, Comrade Xi Jinping.

Late last year, President Xi had his “thought” enshrined in the party's constitution — a move which elevated him to the ranks of Chinese leaders the likes of Mao Zedong, which is no small political kettle of fish. Subsequent to this, President Xi mushrooming power and intent became even clearer on Sunday with his move to effectively eliminate presidential term limits, which allows him to remain in office indefinitely.

Those familiar with the structure of Chinese governance would see this move as a done deal as the legislative branch, the National People's Congress, is just a rubber stamp to the wishes of the Politburo Standing Committee, a body which has all but elevated the current leader to reverential status.

This creeping slide into further authoritarianism may have unforeseen adverse consequences, which can likely ripple throughout Asia and the rest of the world. China, with its economic and growing military might, is now a major player on the world stage, and as such decisions taken in Beijing affect not only the Chinese people, but also people everywhere. The world, including Jamaica, should pay close attention.

Noel Matherson

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