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Chinese president could break customary approaches to Taiwan

2018/03/12 16:57:56

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 12 (CNA) A Taiwanese scholar versed in China affairs believes Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who secured absolute leadership through constitutional change Sunday that removes presidential term limits, could break China's customary practices in relations with Taiwan.

Xi's push for the constitutional change long before his second term is due to end in 2023 was an act that breaks rules. It means that as a leader who breaks rules, Xi could possibly adopt new approaches in his Taiwan policy in the future, Chang Wu-ueh (張五岳), a professor of China Studies at Tamkang University, said Sunday.

China's National People's Congress, widely known as the rubber stamp authority for the Communist Party of China (CPC), endorsed Sunday a controversial change to the country's constitution, removing presidential term limits to enable Xi to remain in power indefinitely.

There were already signs of Xi's desire to have his term prolonged during the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October last year, according to Chang.

The CPC National Congress, China's most important political event in which the party's leadership is decided and policies are set for the next five years, did not elect any member of the Politburo Standing Committee qualified to succeed Xi as head of state.

Also, many plans Xi set forth in his political report to the congress were clearly not drawn up to be carried out within his remaining five years in power, Chang said, noting that some of the plans have even as far ahead as 2035 as a timeline.

Xi has his own version of a "China dream" and to see it realized, he needs to consolidate his power, according to CPC-controlled media outlets, which explained that the removal of the two-term limit on the presidency is necessary to "help maintain the `trinity' of the CPC head, head of state, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, further perfecting the party and state leadership."

Xi's two other more powerful posts -- as head of the CPC and the military -- have no term limits.

Chang said maintaining his title as state leader benefits Xi with full control of power, and that promoting the constitutional change to remove presidential term limits long before the end of his second term is a declaration that from 2018, China's hierarchy will follow Xi's lead.

In terms of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, Xi has broken many CPC customary practices and systems concerning the links since he took power in 2013, the scholar went on.

"To such a leader who breaks these customs, it's impossible that his Taiwan policy will follow precedent," Chang contended, forecasting that Xi will come up with more new approaches for cross-strait links.

While Xi will maintain his opposition to Taiwan independence, and his promotion of unification as the top priorities in his Taiwan policy, he is expected to exert further pressure on Taiwan, Chang forecast.

However, the chances of the Chinese military using armed force against Taiwan are slight, thanks to Xi, who Chang described as a determined leader with his own ideas on Taiwan policy.

He predicted that Xi will reinforce his strength to pressure Taiwan in the international community on one hand, and introduce more incentives to lure Taiwanese resources and win Taiwanese people's hearts on the other.

(By Chai Sze-chia and Elizabeth Hsu)