China's first constitutional change since 2004 may give Xi Jinping even more power

Chinese President Xi Jinping had a good 2017, but 2018 may be looking even better.The ruling Communist Party (...

Posted: Dec 28, 2017 2:48 PM
Updated: Dec 28, 2017 2:48 PM

Chinese President Xi Jinping had a good 2017, but 2018 may be looking even better.

The ruling Communist Party (CCP) will discuss changing the country's constitution for the first time since 2004 next month, with analysts predicting Xi will further cement his grip on power.

Constitutional change expected to give Communist Party sweeping new anti-corruption powers

Paramilitary police placed under direct party control this week

The change could clear the way for the creation of a National Supervision Commission (NSC), a country-wide anti-corruption task force with sweeping new powers, though some have speculated there could also be a move to abolish term-limits on the Presidency, allowing Xi to serve on past 2022.

This comes on the back of a move by Xi this week to shore up his command of the country's armed forces by moving control of paramilitary police from the government to the CCP.

Absolute power

In October, the CCP enshrined "Xi Jinping Thought" as a guiding principle, elevating him to a level no Chinese leader has held since Mao Zedong.

At the same time, Xi unveiled a new leadership team which did not include any obvious successor, increasing speculation he may hold on to power at the end of his second five-year term as President.

Margaret Lewis, an expert in China's legal system at National Taiwan University, said Xi had already scored a "major political victory" with the addition of his "Thought" to the party constitution, and "does not need to change the rules on term limits to remain extremely powerful."

Unlike the presidency, there is no restriction on how long Xi could serve as CCP General Secretary, the position from which his true power flows, though traditionally both titles have been held by the same person.

Deng Xiaoping, during his time as leader, gave up most official positions but retained a huge amount of control over decision making, Lewis said.

"Titles matter, but there is more to power in China," she said, particularly the "extent to which other top leaders act as a check on his power."

This week, the Politburo, the party's top body, underwent a Mao-era style self criticism session in which they vowed to follow Xi's lead, according to state news agency Xinhua.

"Xi has shown firm faith and will, clear commitment to the people, extraordinary political wisdom and tactics and a strong sense of responsibility, in leading the CPC and China in the great struggle with many new contemporary features," the Politburo said in a statement following the "meeting of self reflection."

William Nee, a China researcher for Amnesty International, said self criticism meetings "are a very old tool ... to get people to admit their faults publicly, talk about the problems in their work styles and to profess loyalty to the party center and in this case explicitly to Xi Jinping."

Lewis said the session was typical of how under Xi "there is little tolerance ... for the slightest wobbling off the party line."

Constitutional changes

Creation of the National Supervision Commission would expand that discipline and control to a broad swath of society, analysts said.

Tackling corruption has been a major priority for Xi, but it has previously been focused on party bodies and the military, attracting considerable public support even as some critics accused him of using the campaign to go after potential rivals and shore up his power base.

In a recent report analyzing the proposed NSC framework, Amnesty warned it would "legalize a form of arbitrary detention and create a new extra-judicial system with far-reaching powers that has significant potential to infringe human rights."

Most significantly, the NSC would replace the much-criticized shuanggui system -- in which party members under investigation were held in secret prisons and subjected to abuse and torture -- with a new "retention and custody," or liuzhi, system.

That system would apply not only to party members, but also to people working in state-owned companies, scientific research, education, healthcare and other public bodies, in what Nee described as a "very worrying" development.

The NSC is one of several new laws which "give the party and the government sweeping powers," he said.

While much of these changes involve legalizing activities which already go on unofficially, Nee said this may be motivated by a desire to gain international legitimacy for and cooperation with China's anti-corruption drive.

Under "Operation Foxhunt," Beijing has requested many foreign governments to extradite people accused of corruption and issued Interpol notices for alleged economic criminals, with limited success.

"One sticking point for a lot of countries in repatriating allegedly corrupt officials is the (existing system) is technically an extra-legal body," Nee said.

Military might

As well as shoring up his power over the party, Xi's tenure has seen a major reform of the country's armed forces, bringing them thoroughly under his personal control.

"The importance of the Party's control over the military is an oft-repeated phrase, but Xi has emphasized it heavily during his tenure," Tom Rafferty, China manager at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told CNN earlier this year.

That continued this week, with command of paramilitary police forces placed under the party's Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, both of which are headed by Xi.

The People's Armed Police (PAP) are often deployed to tackle riots, large-scale protests and terrorist attacks, and are "very involved in the maintaining of social order," Nee said, particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang, both of which have large non-ethnic Chinese populations and history of protests and unrest.

Previously the PAP answered in part to the State Council, a governmental body that is nominally separate from the party system. Xi ally Wang Ning, an army general who had no police experience prior to taking the job, has helmed the PAP since 2015.

In an editorial Wednesday, the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the party, said the move was "a significant political decision ... that will strengthen the party's absolute command over the (People's Liberation Army) and other branches of the people's armed forces and will ensure the stability and prosperity of the party and the nation."

Hong Kong-based China analyst Johnny Lau Yui-siu told the South China Morning Post the move was designed to "put all China's military power in Xi's hands."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 70°
Canadian high pressure will continue to build into our area over the next few days. This will bring into our area some of the coolest air of the season so far. Some folks will see overnight lows down into the middle to upper 40s.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather