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On the Question of Term Limit

Recent announcement of the revision of Chinese constitution removing term limit for President and Vice President generated a lot of commotion in the Western press and some opposition from small group of intellectuals, mostly liberals, human right lawyers, and some with bad memories from Cultural Revolution. The superficial reflexes are it’s bad for China, Lord Acton’s maxim, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”, and Xi wants to be the next Mao. Instead of suppressing the opposition I would like to examine the issue here on the merits of the criticisms.
The question whether it’s good or bad for China obvious only history can answer. For all we know Xi may decide after this term is over that he has found his successor and retire. FDR got elected for 4 terms because he felt with the war emergency it would be disruptive to change administration. China is at present in middle of war against corruption, consolidation of socialism values, and achieving China Dream. Xi may feel the need to push ahead to lay the foundation for the victory. If we pay attention on Xi’s speech, ” 功成不必在我”, he doesn’t consider he or any leader is essential for the success of socialism. For western reporters claiming it will be bad for China smack of arrogance like colonialists claiming colonialism is good for those colonies because they bring civilization to those unenlightened. For they always proclaim China will collapse and now feel it will be bad for China is the height of hypocrisy.
As for Lord Acton’s maxim, there is certain truth in it, but by no means all. For what is power? Which has no intrinsic value of good or evil, it’s the imperfect human being wielding power that tends to corrupt. Nuclear power can generate electricity for masses or nuclear weapons can kill millions. Who has absolute power? For Christians, it’s the almighty God. Do we infer since God has absolute power, he is by definition corrupt absolutely and is the Devil?
As for Xi wants to be Mao, the implied criticism is Mao was bad, but overwhelming majority of Chinese consider Mao as the founding father of China, a great man, and revered by Chinese. He may have make some errors impatient to change human nature. Some whom suffered during CR may blame him for their wounds. Do Americans blame George Washington for slavery? I am sure some American Indians and African Americans would.

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