Entering 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to be charting a very new path not only for China but for himself. With the 13th National People’s Congress, Xi effectively ended term limits, amending the constitution of the People’s Republic of China to ensure he could remain president indefinitely. Since there are not formal term limits on the position of general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the actual top position of power, nor on the attendant chairmanship of the Central Military Commission, this meant Xi could hold the reins of power for as long as he wished. Xi was now the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping.
Not only had Xi overturned Deng’s efforts to ensure orderly and regular transfers of power within the CCP system, he was also ever more clearly abandoning Deng’s famous dictum governing foreign policy: “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.” This was evidenced in Xi’s willingness to take up the challenge posed by President Donald Trump on U.S.-China trade relations…
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