Mar 2, 2018

Between the lines on China's move to scrap term limits

Photo: KHAM / AFP / Getty Images

The announcement of the planned State Constitution amendment to allow the PRC president to serve more than two terms rattled people inside and outside China.

Between the lines: It was not a surprise but rather the extinguishing of the last shred of hope that Xi would adhere to some of the institutionalization and norms, however squishy some have been, developed since 1978.

This revision is another move in the growing list of norm-busting changes Xi has pushed to allow him to stay in power for life. The most important substantive move towards this end was the inclusion of Xi Thought in the Party Constitution last fall. As I wrote in the October 24 Sinocism newsletter:

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What's next: Now the National People's Congress will provide the institutional framework of the State to allow Xi, so long as he is alive and the Communist Party is running China, to be the most important and powerful person in China for life.

Be smart: In this new Xi Era, the world must learn to deal with the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, while China itself is now the strongest it has been in centuries. And it has plans to become even more economically, militarily and culturally powerful, on the road to its "Great Rejuvenation."

The big question: The debate over whether or not Xi respects "norms" should finally be over. This is not an academic debate. The question of whether or not Xi respects norms matters because it goes to the fundamental nature of Xi and the CCP. If the West does not understand this, how can the it possibly craft a viable response to the growing challenge from the PRC?

More: Read Brookings Institution's piece on "China’s constitutional conundrum" by Cheng Li and Ryan McElveen, and Axios Expert Voices by Richard Haas and Elizabeth Economy.

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Scoop: Inside the Trump campaign's big hedge on Facebook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump campaign has invested most of its advertising budget to date on Facebook, testing thousands of versions of ads per day to maximize its spending.

But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

Trump's revenge tour has the House in its sights

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.

Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi, Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

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