China's ruling Communist Party has proposed scrapping term limits for the country's president, reports the AP, appearing to lay the groundwork for Xi Jinping to rule beyond 2023. The party's Central Committee proposed to remove from the constitution the clause that president and vice president "shall serve no more than two consecutive terms," Xinhua News Agency said Sunday. "Xi Jinping has finally achieved his ultimate goal when he first embarked on Chinese politics—that is to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century," said Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong Kong. Xi, 64, cemented his status as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao in the 1970s at last year's twice-a-decade Communist Party congress, where his name and political theory were added to the party constitution as he was given a second five-year term as general secretary.
It was the latest move by the party signaling Xi's willingness to break tradition and centralize power under him. This "is potentially very dangerous because the reason why Mao Zedong made one mistake after another was because China was a one-man show," Lam said. "There are no longer any checks and balances." Xi is set to be appointed to his second five-year term at an annual meeting of the rubber-stamp parliament that starts March 5. The proposal to end term limits will likely be approved at that meeting. Analysts said the party would likely seek to justify the move by citing Xi's vision of establishing a prosperous, modern society by 2050. "President Xi may be in a leading position for a relatively long time," says a political commentator. "This is beneficial to pushing forward reforms and the fight against corruption, but it's impossible for China to have lifetime tenure again."