China to drop presidential term limits, clearing way for Xi Jinping to stay on

Updated 7:27 AM EST, Sun February 25, 2018
China
China's President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Gambia's President Adama Barrow (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 21, 2017. The two countries re-established diplomatic relations in 2016 / AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:37
China to drop presidential term limits
China
China's heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket blasts off from its launch centre in Wenchang, south China's Hainan province on December 27, 2019. - China on December 27 launched one of the world's most powerful rockets in a major step forward for its planned mission to Mars in 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Stringer/AFP via Getty Images
Now playing
01:58
China successfully launches Long March 5 rocket
china uyghur graves rivers newday pkg vpx_00001901.jpg
china uyghur graves rivers newday pkg vpx_00001901.jpg
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
04:01
Uyghur gravesites in China wiped off the map
US President Donald Trump (L) and China
US President Donald Trump (L) and China's President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Donald Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work "hard" and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, during their meeting in Beijing on November 9, warning that "time is quickly running out". / AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:10
Trump, China agree on 'phase one' trade deal
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 19: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Seven candidates out of the crowded field qualified for the 6th and last Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019 hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 19: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Seven candidates out of the crowded field qualified for the 6th and last Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019 hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Now playing
01:47
Biden: China cannot be allowed to continue Xinjiang abuses
US and Chinese flags are seen as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and China
US and Chinese flags are seen as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet at the US Department of State May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
00:45
US blacklists 28 Chinese organizations and companies
PHOTO: Photo Illustration: CNNMoney/Getty Images/Shutterstock
Now playing
02:16
China retaliates after new US tariffs
china new military might original rivers_00000806.jpg
china new military might original rivers_00000806.jpg
PHOTO: CCTV
Now playing
02:26
China's push to modernize its military (2017)
liu xiaobo orig_00000024.jpg
liu xiaobo orig_00000024.jpg
PHOTO: PEN International
Now playing
01:24
The lovers even China couldn't keep apart
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 9:  Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a welcoming ceremony November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China. Trump is on a 10-day trip to Asia.  (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 9: Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a welcoming ceremony November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China. Trump is on a 10-day trip to Asia. (Photo by Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Pool/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Now playing
05:18
How will tariffs affect US, China trading?
This picture taken on January 7, 2015 shows a man using his mobile phone at a Xiaomi shop in Beijing.    AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO / AFP / WANG ZHAO        (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on January 7, 2015 shows a man using his mobile phone at a Xiaomi shop in Beijing. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO / AFP / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: WANG ZHAO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:39
Can Xiaomi survive a trade war?
ROCKTON, IL - OCTOBER 9:  John Shedd, 85, loads a container with Bt-corn harvested from his son
ROCKTON, IL - OCTOBER 9: John Shedd, 85, loads a container with Bt-corn harvested from his son's farm October 9, 2003 near Rockton, Illinois. Shedd and his son farm 800 acres of the corn on farms in Illinois and Wisconsin. Bt-corn is a GMO (genetically modified organism) crop that offers growers an alternative to spraying an insecticide for control of European and southwestern corn borer. The Shedds sell the corn for use in ethanol. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Now playing
01:54
China is hitting the US where it hurts: Soybeans
Xi Jinping can now rule for life
Xi Jinping can now rule for life
Now playing
01:07
Is he the most powerful man in the world?
(CNN) —  

China’s Communist Party (CCP) has proposed amending the country’s constitution to allow President Xi Jinping to serve a third term in office.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the Party will remove the provision that the President and Vice President “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” from the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

The proposed amendment will have to be ratified by China’s rubber-stamp parliament – the National People’s Congress (NPC) – in March.

When it goes into effect, Xi will be free to serve indefinitely as China’s head of state, the strongest indication yet he is intending to maintain power at the top beyond the two 5-year terms served by his predecessors for the past 20 years.

Plans to change the country’s constitution for the first time since 2004 were announced in December, with most analysts predicting the Party would seek to modify the country’s top legal document to create a National Supervision Commission (NSC), a country-wide anti-corruption task force with sweeping new powers.

Break with tradition

In January, the Party’s top body proposed also adding “Xi Jinping Thought” to the document, enshrining it alongside Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as a key guiding principle of the country.

Experts predicted last October that Xi may seek to stay on as leader after he failed to unveil an obvious successor at a major party congress, appearing to break with an unwritten rule of two five-year terms as head of the party.

However, some doubted whether this would require a constitutional change, saying Xi could simply retain power through his role as General Secretary of the CCP, which does not have term limits, rather than the ceremonial presidency.

Deng Xiaoping, the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong, gave up most of his official titles but retained a tight grip on the country until his death in 1997.

By contrast, Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao was pushed out of his political roles and stripped of influence once Xi came to power. Since then he has rarely taken part in public engagements and many of his allies have fallen to Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.

Thomas Kellogg, executive director of Georgetown Law Asia, wrote last year that were Xi to follow the traditional 10-year term limit, “no doubt (he) could find a way to include himself in future high-flying global confabs, just as he could insert himself into key national meetings usually chaired by the Chinese president.”

“But doing so would be made more difficult and create a potential rival in the form of the new president,” he said. “Authoritarian rulers must constantly worry about whether their top lieutenants will seek to gain political advantage by betraying their own political patron, and Xi would be no exception.”