China explains move to scrap presidential term limits

BEIJING China yesterday gave its first official explanation on the Communist Party's move to scrap presidential term limits, a decision that could pave the way for Mr Xi Jinping to remain president for life.

The National People's Congress (NPC) will vote on Sunday on constitutional amendments which include the scrapping of a rule limiting the top leader to two five-year terms.

In response to a question whether the move will allow Mr Xi to "stay on forever", NPC spokesman Zhang Yesui said the move will merely align the presidency with the titles of Communist Party general secretary and Central Military Commission chairman, which do not have term limits.

"It is conducive to uphold the authority of the Central Committee of the party with comrade Xi Jinping at the core and also to unify leadership," Mr Zhang told a news conference on the eve of the opening of the NPC's annual session.

Mr Zhang revealed that the party's Central Committee proposed the Constitutional amendments, which include adding Mr Xi's eponymous political guidelines to the country's charter, in January.

"The constitution must adapt to the changing circumstances, include new experiences, reflect new achievements and lay out new guidelines to remain relevant," Mr Zhang said.

"Revising the constitution is certainly a big event in the country's political life and it is also a major legislative activity that will have wide-ranging implications."

US President Donald Trump weighed in on Mr Xi's power play on Saturday, according to audio published by CNN from a closed-door Florida fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort .

"He's now president for life," the 71-year-old US president said, eliciting chuckles from the crowd of Republican donors.

"And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great."

He garnered more laughs when he quipped: "Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day." - AFP