On March 17, China’s legislature, the National People Congress, approved the reappointment of Xi Jinping as President with no limit on the number of terms he could serve. Jinping was also reapproved as head of the government commision that commands the military. Out of 2,964 ballots, only two delegates voted against the move and three abstained. The Congress also appointed Wang Qishan, a major Jinping ally, as Vice President. Chinese officials defended this action by stating it was necessary to align Jinping’s two significant roles, as head of the Communist party and the military. However, this move was met with backlash from many political critics. Their main concern is that China is becoming more authoritarian, and political infighting is increasing. On the contrary, others believe that, by extending Jinping’s term, he can have more time to address China’s economic problems and establish the stability of the country. However, it is unlikely that Jinping will actually face much opposition from other nations regarding this move, as a stable China is their main concern. The majority of the opposition will be concentrated within China. To address this issue, Jinping plans to enforce an already incredibly restricted internet access, saying that he will “clearly oppose and resist the whole range of erroneous viewpoints.”
This move is incredibly important on a global scale for China. China is trying to extend its sphere of influence, by recently launching its “Belt and Road Initiative.” This program will build a network of railroads, roads, and shipping lanes across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania, with Beijing at its center. As of January 2018, 71 countries (approximately one third of the world’s GDP) is participating in this project. China has invested over $900 billion dollars in projects along the belt and road. This includes investing in the infrastructure of several countries. In fact, China has invested $1.4 billion in the infrastructure of the Eastern African country Djibouti, according to a 2018 report from the Center for Global Policy Development. In return, Djibouti plans to give a major commercial port in their control to China. China’s increasing influence in Africa and around the world is becoming a concern of the United States and several other western countries, which is why China’s move to remove term limits for Presidential power is so significant.
– Anika Sanyal