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China Reform Monitor - No. 1320

China's army backs Xi's bid for expanded powers;
A deepening political footprint in Afghanistan

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
March 13, 2018

February 23:

Just ahead of the National People's Congress (NPC), President Xi Jinping is convening a full Central Committee meeting, including the top 400 Communist Party cadres, to select China's next government,
the Straits Times reports. The session will approve personnel appointments and restructuring decisions to be publicly ratified by the NPC. Current People's Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan is expected to retire, giving Xi an opportunity to transform the leadership of the central bank, as well as banking and insurance regulators. The new team will seek to address China's ballooning aggregate debt – now at around 260 percent of GDP and growing – without crashing the economy.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third full Central Committee meeting since Xi secured a second five-year term in October, underscoring his ambitious efforts to reshape the government. The committee has not met so many times during the same period since the process was standardized four decades ago. In January, the Central Committee met to approve the first amendments to the state constitution in 14 years, which also require the NPC's approval.]

February 26:

an open letter to fifty-five NPC legislators, Li Datong, a former editor of the state-run China Youth Daily, called for them to vote down the proposal to abolish term limits, which he said could "sow the seeds of chaos for China." Li wrote: "The two-term limit on the presidency introduced in the 1982 constitution is an epochal political reform by the Communist Party of China and all the Chinese people, after their reflection on the enormous sufferings of the Cultural Revolution. It was the highest and most effective legal restriction meant to prevent autocracy or putting individuals above the party and the state. It's also one of the most important political legacies of Deng Xiaoping. Any country without term limits for its state leaders will have disaster. This is a question the whole world has given thought to for thousands of years."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Li, 66, the former editor-in-chief of Freezing Point, a section of the China Youth Daily, was fired in 2005 after the magazine published a piece challenging the party's official narrative of certain events in late the Qing dynasty, including the Boxer Rebellion's slaughter of foreigners,
the South China Morning Post reports.]

February 27:

President Xi Jinping has called for strong mechanisms to form a "cage" that can prevent officials from breaking rules. The new National Supervision Commission will adopt a new "liuzhi," or detention, system that operates outside existing criminal procedure law. Xi announced the new system last October to replace the previous "shuanggui" system. "Major crimes related to official duties are not the same as normal crimes and the investigations cannot be done in the same way. That's why the party's Central Committee has adopted the detention measure," said Zhang Shuofu, head of the Beijing Supervision Commission, one of three bureaus set up last year in advance of the new nationwide commission's roll-out. China's supervision methods are "totally different" from the system of checks and balances in countries where supervision agencies are subordinate to the courts and prosecutors, Zhang said in
comments carried by Reuters.

February 28:

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has voiced its support for the proposal to end the two-term limit on the presidency and allow Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely. The planned constitutional revisions, which also include the addition of "Xi Jinping Thought" and the creation of the National Supervisory Commission, are "very necessary and timely," and "are in line with the major theoretical views and key policies made during the Communist Party's 19th congress and reflect the new achievements, experience and demands of the party and the country's development,"
the official PLA Daily said in a front-page report.

March 2:

China is assisting in the Afghan reconciliation and reconstruction process and welcomes President Ashraf Ghani's offer to talk with the Taliban, said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. At a conference of officials from countries in the Kabul Process, which seeks to facilitate talks to end the war, Ghani said he would recognize the insurgents as a legitimate party in negotiations. The Taliban responded to the proposed peace talks by claiming that the Kabul Process is aimed at seeking its "surrender." "Our country has been occupied, which has led to an American-style supposed Afghan government being imposed upon us,"
the group's statement read according to Pakistan Today.

Related Categories: China; Afghanistan; China and East Asia Program

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