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Prime Minister Prayut is no President Xi - Thitinan Pongsudhirak

 That the Chinese Communist Party-controlled legislature has removed the term limits of the country's president and vice president has already sent shockwaves worldwide. It means that President Xi Jinping can continue to be China's head of state into a third term beyond 2023. Even though China's presidency is less powerful than the Chinese Communist Party's General Secretary and head of the Central Military Commission, the abolition of presidential term limits sends unmistakable signals that President Xi intends to hold complete and absolute power. He is now seen as more powerful than any contemporary Chinese leader, unrivalled since the time of founding father Mao Zedong.


President Xi's power consolidation and political longevity is intensely debated. Many see it as runaway power that will pose more risks for the Chinese system, as Mr Xi becomes more unchecked, isolated and susceptible to abuses among his associates and loyalists. Others view Mr Xi's omnipotent and omnipresent power as necessary to keep political rivals at bay in order to maintain and reinforce the course of political and economic reforms his administration has so far instituted. That debate will continue but the Xi example is likely to encourage and embolden leaders elsewhere to view China as a model of having the cake of economic dynamism while being able to eat it as well with centralised political authority.