Xi reappointed as China’s president with no term limits

Wang Qishan, former secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, walks past Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) at the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 5, 2018. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Xi reappointed as China’s president with no term limits

BEIJING: Xi Jinping was reappointed Saturday as China’s president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve.
The National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, also appointed close Xi ally Wang Qishan to the formerly ceremonial post of vice president.
Xi, 64, is considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong and last Sunday was given the right to continue in office indefinitely after the legislature scrapped term limits for the president and vice president.
Chinese officials defended the move saying it would bring the presidency in-line with Xi’s other two main positons of head of the ruling Communist Party and commander of the armed forces.
Critics say the move overturning a push to institutionalize China’s ruling practices dating from 1982 will likely lead to increased political repression and possible infighting among party factions seeking to promote their own candidates within the closed system.
Xi took office as president in 2013 and hasn’t said how many additional five-year terms he intends to serve. State media has said the removal of term limits will not alter conditions for retirement or create a president in perpetuity, but has offered no details.
Xi is expected to expand his yearslong campaign against corruption within the party to include all state employees through the creation of a new National Supervisory Commission, while continuing to pursue a muscular foreign policy and policies to upgrade the slowing economy.
Economic growth and social stability have allowed Xi to amend the constitution and carry out other moves that once seemed highly contentious, said Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London.
“Really no one is going to shout and moan too much” because growth and stability are considered so important, Brown said Friday in a talk to foreign media in Beijing.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 19 April 2018
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat will begin on Friday.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.