BEIJING – The upcoming constitutional reform in China that would allow the president to rule for more than two five-year terms was praised on Monday by official media while comments on the news were disabled on social media.
The Communist Party of China Central Committee proposed Sunday to do away with a two-term limit for the president and vice president of the country, which, if passed, would allow current leader Xi Jinping to be re-elected for a third term.
The social network Weibo, the local equivalent of Twitter, has blocked comments on news reports shared by official accounts and has also removed more than 3,000 comments which were posted on the first story about the measure, published by official news agency Xinhua.
Comments comparing the future of China after the step, which was announced along with other reforms in the constitution, to the North Korean regime were quickly removed.
The CPC also proposed including the ideas of Xi – arguably the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong – in the country’s constitution.
Official media praised the reforms and Xinhua said they had the support of most high-ranking officials and the population.
The Global Times newspaper, which is linked to the CPC, said in its editorial that the reform did not necessarily mean a lifelong presidency and that the government had carried out leadership replacement effectively in the last four decades, marked by reforms and opening-up.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang on Monday rejected international media’s criticism about the possibility of Xi continuing as president and said the reform was an internal matter.
There has been speculation about Xi continuing as president beyond his term, set to end in 2023, since November 2017, when the 19th Congress of the CPC replaced the second string leadership but did not come up with an heir-apparent for the president, who is also the party’s secretary-general.
In Hong Kong, where press has more freedom compared to the mainland, the measure was met with some criticism from figures such as Joshua Wong, leader of the 2014 pro-democracy protests.
“This move, which would allow for a single individual to amass and accumulate political power, means that China would again have a dictator as her head of state – Xi Jinping,” Wong said on Twitter.