President Xi has too much power

Comment: Xi Jinping - Will China's President Be Dictator Forever?

Xi Jinping was seen as a colorless transition candidate when he assumed the most important leadership roles in the People's Republic of China in 2012: chairing the all-powerful Communist Party, chairing the Central Military Commission and serving as president. It quickly became apparent that the now 64-year-old had been largely underestimated.

It has been known since Sunday that Xi Jinping's ambition is beyond the scope of the previous Chinese constitution. The official Xinhua News Agency carried an announcement of planned constitutional changes at the upcoming session of China's bogus parliament, the National People's Congress. In addition to harmless party praise such as the now more detailed description of the socialist system as "great", "modern" and "beautiful", there is another explosive constitutional amendment. In the language of Xinhua: "The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposes to delete the passage from the Constitution that limits the term of office of the President and Vice-President to five years." There is no question that the People's Congress will accept this proposal - after all, it has never rejected anything.

Break with the lessons of Mao's excesses

China's Communist Party is officially breaking a decade-long practice of an orderly transfer of power after ten years at the latest. This system was introduced by China's reform architect Deng Xiaoping. Deng drew the lessons from the excesses of the era of the state founder Mao Zedong. With his unrestricted power that was focused on himself, he had triggered catastrophes such as the "Great Leap Forward" - the largest man-made famine in the world - or the Cultural Revolution. It is true that Mao still looks larger than life from the entrance of the Imperial Palace in Beijing over Tiananmen Square. But its sole rule has inflicted such deep wounds that even officially its legacy is only rated "70 percent good, 30 percent bad". Never again should a person hold so much power in their hands. The cult of the leader was frowned upon. The collective should lead. Decentralization was the trump card, experimentation was encouraged.

DW editor Matthias von Hein

Xi Jinping puts an end to that. He has eliminated political rivals with an unprecedented corruption campaign - which also has the advantage of being well received by the population. Xi has centralized again and has taken on so many tasks personally in so many leadership groups that the British Economist showed him on the cover as "Chairman for Everything". Since Xi took office, the crackdown on dissidents, activists and civil society has been tougher than in previous decades. What little freedoms there were was undone. Finally, last October, Xi made sure that his "Xi-Jinping thinking" was included as a political theory in the party constitution - an honor previously only bestowed on Mao himself. In practical terms, however, this means that no one in the party can have more authority than Xi. And since the Xi word applies: "Whether government, army, society or schools, whether north, south, east or west - the party rules over everything", Xi automatically rules everything. This increase in power is accompanied by a swelling personality cult.

The most powerful leader in decades will remain for decades

With the planned constitutional amendment, Xi is now also institutionally ensuring that it can exercise this wealth of power for life. The world will have to adjust to the most powerful Chinese leader in decades - for decades. And this at a time when China is increasingly becoming its own geostrategic center of gravity, is raising the question of system competition with the democracies of the West and is trying to tie in with the splendor of imperial China with the "Chinese Dream". The new silk road project "One Belt - One Road", which spans the entire Eurasian continent, is just a foretaste of the ambitions of China - and Xi.

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