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It was an announcement that was both surprising and unsurprising. On Friday at the conclusion of the National People’s Congress, China’s Premier Li Keqiang announced his resignation from office at the end of the year. This is actually normal in the People’s Republic. Previously, two five-year terms in office were the rule for both the prime minister and the president.
But not with Xi Jinping. The state and party leader plans to be reelected for another term and can now choose a suitable prime minister. Frank Sieren takes a look at the possible successors to Li Keqiang – should Xi follow past appointment patterns. But a surprise is always possible with him.
Regardless of who becomes the next premier in Xi’s shadow, he will also face a continuing question: Taiwan’s fate has returned to the spotlight in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Does the West’s reaction to Putin’s war tend to deter political leaders in Beijing? Or do they even feel encouraged by Russia’s invasion to attack Taiwan?
We have already looked at this topic from different angles here at China.Table. This time, the question is how to immunize the country against possible sanctions by the West. Beijing could draw conclusions from the sanctions against Russia and bolster its own resilience to ensure that trade restrictions following a potential attack on Taiwan would be less effective. China’s desire to become independent of foreign expertise in a growing number of economic sectors could receive a huge boost, writes Marcel Grzanna.
Li Keqiang resigns – who will step into Xi’s shadow?
For many decades, the authoritarian political system of the People’s Republic of China had a political virtue. After two terms, that is, every ten years, both the president and his prime minister had to step down along with their teams, and two new politicians took over. “This is the last year I will be premier,” Li Keqiang confirmed on Friday. He is stepping down from his post after two terms. President Xi Jinping, on the other hand, intends to take a different path.
Typically, the successor to the president is announced after about five years. From then on, the successor keeps a close eye on the incumbent president. The incumbent’s remaining time in office should not be used to burn all bridges. Although the top political leadership was not elected by the citizens of the People’s Republic, but rather selected by the Communist Party, there was at least a new impetus at least every five years and a major one every ten years.
This sensible system was already undermined by head of state Xi back in 2018. He is now able to rule for as long as the party, which he heads, lets him. Long terms of office have advantages and disadvantages. Among Western democracies, Germany is one country whose voters chose to keep Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel (both 16 years) in office for a long time. Xi has only ten years under his belt. Especially in such a large country, there are good reasons for longer office terms to enact major reforms. For example, Xi was and is much more effective than his predecessors in the fight against corruption.
- Chinese Communist Party
- Li Keqiang
- Li Keqiang
- National People’s Congress
- Xi Jinping
- Xi Jinping
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