Op-Ed: In China, Xi Jinping is getting an unprecedented third term. What should the world expect?
China’s state-run media declared at the start of this year that “presidential term limits” had ended. But that hasn’t stopped Xi Jinping from being a one-term leader.
The new term limit law, the “Citizen’s Act” passed by parliament in July, comes with a one-year deadline. That seems like more than enough time for Xi to build a legacy that is more than a mere rebranding of the current state-led policies.
Xi is trying to ensure that he sets the tone for Chinese economic and foreign policy for the next 20 years. The state-owned newspaper, the People’s Daily, has consistently put out a stream of state-directed, “Xi-friendly” opinion pieces and editorials on domestic and foreign policy over the past two years.
At the same time, the Communist Party’s leadership, based on a “socialist” theory that has been around at least since Deng Xiaoping, have also taken a strong nationalistic stance over the last 30 years. Xi has made clear he wants to build on Deng’s “Reform, Reform, Reform” campaign while still maintaining his “pivot to Asia” and “peaceful rise” strategies.
What should we expect as the third term for Xi Jinping?
There are three main areas where you can see this term limit law will impact Chinese foreign relations:
(1) An international image
An international image is already being shaped by Xi’s global ambitions. That Xi has been able to secure a third term at the age of 78 reflects how he is far more popular than his father Mao Zedong, who had been in power for 42 years by the end of his life.
Xi’s approval ratings have consistently been higher than those of his predecessors. According to the