The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened its 13thNational People’s Congress (NPC) on March 5, 2018, where nearly 3,000 members gather to vote on amendments to the constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and other legislative matters. The NPC is considered a rubber stamp for the party leadership because “no” votes are rarely cast.
What makes this NPC so much more important than previous ones is that several proposed amendments will change Chinese politics for many years to come.
In February 2018, the CCP released a list of proposed amendments. The list is long, and not all items are worth highlighting. But the major proposed changes are all about Xi Jinping and his vision for China. The two most controversial amendments are the elimination of the two-term limit to the office of the president and the inclusion of supervisory commissions as an official state organ. These two measures will grant Xi the ability to rule for life if he so chooses as well as to continue to oust competition under the guise of an anti-corruption movement.
Even though Xi recently said, “No organization or individual has the power to overstep the Constitution or the law,” he omitted the qualification that one individual—Xi himself—has the power to railroad through amendments to the constitution after years of removing rivals and installing allies into key posts.
Through sheer force of will, Xi has made himself the “It Man” in China. After years of institutionalized succession and an emphasis on collective leadership, Xi has hollowed out these once-sacred mechanisms in order to keep himself in power indefinitely.
No matter what the future Xi holds for China, the country is squarely in Xi’s hands for better or worse. His name and political thought, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era,” will, in fact, be added to the constitution along with Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, demonstrating his high place in Chinese politics.