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Xi Jinping: China removes criticism of Communist Party proposal allowing President to stay in power indefinitely

Chinese leader satirically compared to an emperor and North Korea's ruling Kim dynasty

Samuel Osborne
Monday 26 February 2018 18:15 GMT
Social media users shared Winnie the Pooh memes, playing on the President’s supposed likeness to the cartoon bear
Social media users shared Winnie the Pooh memes, playing on the President’s supposed likeness to the cartoon bear

Chinese censors have already begun to crack down on criticism and social media jibes against President Xi Jinping, following China’s proposal to keep him in office indefinitely.

As well as publishing articles praising the ruling party, they quickly blocked some satirical commentary on President Xi’s tenure in office which compared him to an Emperor and to North Korea’s ruling dynasty.

“The era of Emperor Xi,” tweeted Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

On Sunday, the ruling Communist Party proposed to remove a constitutional clause limiting presidential service to two consecutive terms.

The Central Committee also proposed inserting his official ideological framework – the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” – into the constitution.

In response, many social media users shared images of Winnie the Pooh hugging a jar of honey, a meme playing on Mr Xi’s supposed likeness to the rotund cartoon bear, with the quote: “Find the thing you love and stick with it.”

Others wrote: “Attention, the vehicle is reversing” – the automated announcement heard on Chinese delivery vehicles – to imply that the country is returning to the era of former dictator Mao Zedong, or even imperial rule.

Another widely circulated comment played on the intense pressure young Chinese people often face from their parents to marry and produce grandchildren.

“My mother told me that I have to get married during Xi Dada’s presidential term,” it said, using a moniker for Mr Xi typically translated as “Big Uncle Xi”.

“Now I can finally breathe a long sigh of relief.”

Theresa May meets with Chinese president Xi Jinping

Mr Xi, who has already been elevated to the position of China’s most powerful leader since Mao, appears to want additional terms to see through his agenda of fighting corruption, eliminating poverty and transforming China into a modern leading nation.

But analysts said the Chinese leadership may have “got more than they bargained for” with Mr Jinping.

“Under the previous leadership in China, there was a general feeling given the real challenges China was facing it needed some kind of strong leader to make the decisions and drive China forward,” Rob Wye, associate fellow of the Asia programme at Chatham House, told The Independent.

“But I think they got more than they bargained for. He has single-mindedly gone about the difficult processes of establishing himself as a pre-eminent leader in China, of which there hasn’t been one since the days of perhaps Deng Xaioping.”

Mr Wye said Mr Jinping’s corruption drive, which he said went after individuals ”at a more senior level than people expected”, had “clear political overtones, establishing Xi Jinping’s standing among the party”.

“This has been part of his way of establishing his power throughout China,” he added.

“Argh, we’re going to become North Korea,” one user wrote on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

In North Korea, the Kim dynasty has ruled since 1948, after Kim Il-sung founded the reclusive state.

“We’re following the example of our neighbour,” wrote another user.

However, Mr Wye cautioned that the premier could face currently unseen challenges from his opponents in the future.

“In the process of consolidating your power in any political system, you can never have enough of it. There is always more to do.

“There are always opponents, but such controversies are well hidden and you’re not going to get anyone speaking out against Xi Jinping at the moment.”

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