In George Orwell's novel “1984,” 'Big Brother' is the fictional power created by the fictional nation of Oceania to dominate the public. The country constantly watches individuals through telescreen and forces the public to have a sense of loyalty to ‘Big Brother.’ In the process, the public loses the opportunity to think for itself and is also discouraged from liberty. It has been 69 years since the novel was published, and now, there is a possibility to see this similar absolute power in China. The National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China (the NPC) led China to revise its constitution for the first time in 14 years. As a result of this amendment, the article about the term of president, whose mandate was limited to two terms of five years each, was revised. Therefore, the background was established for President Xi to take power for a long time. Also, through the actions of the powerful in China, President Xi Jinping's prolonged rule of state shows that China is on the path to absolute power.
Realization of President Xi’s Absolute Power
In March, the result of the vote of 2,958 in favor and two against in the NPC became the signal flare to lock up their absolute power. Before the opening of the NPC, the whole world paid attention to China. At the third meeting of the Communist Party of China Central Committee at the end of February, the organization's reformplan to solidify President Xi Jinping's long-term role in power was made. The China Central Committee is the organization which has sovereign power of the Chinese Communist Party. This committeeplays a role in determining and enforcing important matters. Then, the voting about the agenda that is made in the China Central Committee is carried out at the NPC which is similar to the National Assembly in Korea. But so far, the NPC has never voted down an agenda created by the Central Committee, including the agenda of this March. Thus, we can see how powerful the Central Committee and the Communist Party is.
Two things stand out in China’s Constitutional amendment. First, it is noticeable that the revision to the Constitution deleted the limit to the number of terms for the president. In Article 79, Section 3 of the Constitution, “The presidency of the People's Republic of China is the same as the term of the NPC, and the head of state cannot serve consecutive terms more than two times.” However, Chinese authorities have deleted, “the head of state cannot serve consecutive terms more than two times.” The Chinese authorities said they deleted the regulation due to the establishment of the Trinity. In China, among the General Secretary, only the State President had restrictions to consecutive terms unlike Chinese Military President and State President. So, the Chinese authorities argued that there is no consistency. This ambition of President Xi has long been predicted. Originally, President Xi Jinping had to appoint a successor in 2017 when his first term as the State President ended, but he didn’t. Due to this amendment, President Xi will have a cause to retain his three posts even after 2022 when his current term ends. In addition, “The Thought of Xi Jinping” has been inserted into this amendment. This made Xi Jinping similar to Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse-tung in the Chinese Constitution.
The Merger and Reform of the Organization
The merger is also expected between political parties and government agencies. The State Council, which takes charge of administration in China, is currently led by Prime Minister Li Kechang. However, the major reform is expected to weaken the position of the State Council and strengthen Xi's power. The Chinese media has already reported that the number of ministries of the State Council will be decreased from 25 to 19. The reform bill also plans to create an organization to enhance media censorship. Experts predict that this new organization will strengthen censorship in China and focus more on the promotion of President Xi Jinping, who is eager to hold long-term power in the future.
Also, the China authorities will establish the National Inspection Committee. This Committee will inspect civil servants, artists, athletes, and businesspeople who do not belong to the Communist Party. Also, they plan to get power similar to the State Council and the China Central Committee, so this organization will become enormously influential in the courts and the prosecution. And this Committee can also detain a person for up to six months. This detained person will not be allowed access to a lawyer, so it is possible that these powers will be used for the purpose of corruption.
For Stronger Absolute Power
The Strict Control
In late February, a short column appeared through China's official Xinhua news agency. “The Chinese Central Committee suggested the abolition of regulation of term to the head of state.” As this article was immediately delivered around the world, things grew worse. According to Hong Kong’s daily reports, President Xi became very upset and eventually fired the editor of Xinhuashe and made the chairman of the News Agency criticize himself. Some analyze that it was intended to drive out the opposition forces against the Chinese authorities in the media before the start of a long term ruling of President Xi. China's media control has continued in other media outlets besides Xinhuashe. In the report of People’s Daily and CCTV, the word "constitutional amendment" has been deleted.
China’s media control did not stop here. Search within portal sites such as Weibo and Baidu, for words reminiscent of the long ruling of Xi Jinping, including “term of the head of state,” “dream of China,” and “worship” have been banned. Also, President Xi’s nickname is also impossible to search in portal sites, just like Winnie the Pooh. Some novels, such as “Brave New World” by Alders Huxley and “Animal Farm and ”1984” by George Orwell, which depict dictatorship and controlled societies, were also banned on the Internet. To pacify the opposition by Chinese Internet users, the Chinese authorities are stepping up censorship on the Internet. In early March, after the actions of the NPC started, the Chinese government imposed a restriction on foreign entrance into the restaurants of university towns. One store owner near Tsinghua University said, “Chinese police have informed that, by the end of March, they should not accept more than 10 foreigners on weekends. It shows that China is aware of the negative overseas perception of Xi's prolonged rule.
Xi Jinping: The Living Buddha?
On the other hand, the Reuter's News Agency reported that there is an atmosphere of worship around President Xi Jinping. One of the party secretaries in China said in the NPC, “The people of our district regard President Xi as a god. Also, they say that only President Xi is a living saint.” The documentary, "My Country," which released in theaters with the opening of the NPC, also introduces the importance of constitutional amendments and promotes President Xi's first term that began in 2012. For its success, the Communist Party used a large amount of party expenditure to give 7,000 Communist Party members a chance to see this documentary for free one month. In addition, the government media, including the People's Daily and the Hwan-gu Times, are busy supporting and promoting the amendment of Constitution. They said “The Constitutional amendment is a helpful and good news to the Chinese people” and “It is necessary to keep the Chinese people stable and to lead the party.”
The Response of Foreign Countries
Foreign media who are watching China heading for absolute power are expressing serious concerns. CNN said, “China will influence global uncertainty with President Trump and the Brexit of England.” Foreign media also point out the danger and side effects of the absolute power system by one person. If a person with absolute authority is involved in a problem or an accident, the country can also fall into a serious problem. Some experts call this danger "risk of Xi Jinping", and are concerned that the balance of power will not work well. Also, as China’s GDP ranks second in the world after the United States, China is strong enough to form G2 with the United States. Therefore, if foreign countries which have discontent to President Xi’s long term in his post cut back on economic activities in China, it is likely to negatively affect the Chinese economy. Also, concerns are being raised that this may not only affect China but also affect the economies of the world.
China is taking steps to achieve full hegemony in the world with dreaming of a stronger China. They say that one of the footholds to making this dream come true will be the absolute power of President Xi Jinping. In short, it is likely that they will be able to increase the concentration of President Xi’s power by consistently pushing policies forward. It is important to remember how endless absolute power could result in having a fatal effect on China's internal problems as well as the entire world. It remains to be seen how China's prolonged rule will affect the world market.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >