Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

While some say removing term limits will allow Xi Jinping to push through key reforms, there are fears about one-man rule, with the horrors of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward still remembered by many in China/AFP


Economists see stability in Xi supremacy, Chinese eye exit

While some say removing term limits will allow Xi Jinping to push through key reforms, there are fears about one-man rule, with the horrors of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward still remembered by many in China/AFP

BEIJING, China, Feb 28 – As Xi Jinping marches toward presidency for life, economists are lauding the stability of his continued rule but the move has caused some Chinese people to consider moving assets, or themselves, abroad.

The Communist Party’s move to scrap presidential term limits is the latest indication Xi is returning the country to strongman rule, undermining the consensus of technocrats that has governed China in recent years.

But a lengthy period of stability under Xi, whose second term would normally end in 2023, will give him time to push through the much-needed reforms he has championed, analysts say.

Xi and his economic team have pledged to tackle China’s ballooning debt, move the economy towards sustainable consumption-based growth and taken aim at corruption endemic in the Communist Party.

The “measures are more likely to be successful with a strong and steady leadership”, said Robert Carnell, chief economist at ING Bank.

“The ability to get stuff done is something that the weak coalitions that govern, for example, most of Europe, would give their eye-teeth for,” Carnell wrote in the note to investors quoted by Bloomberg News.

At Davos in January, Xi’s top economic advisor Liu He told the crowd of global elites China would get financial risk under control within three years.

“This reform agenda would last for decades,” economist Raymond Yeung at ANZ Bank wrote in a note to investors, which was largely positive on the raft of proposed constitutional changes.

Concentration of power

Liu, who analysts believe could be in line to become the next central bank chief and also hold the title of vice premier, is in the United States this week dealing with the thorny trade issues rocking relations between the world’s two largest economies.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

A firmer grip on the country for his patron Xi may give him greater leeway to bargain with Donald Trump’s administration, analysts say, though others caution it could harden China’s positions.

The United States and Europe have also complained that Beijing has repeatedly failed to keep its word on opening up its market to foreign firms, which still face many obstacles.

History shows one-man rule can hamper effective economic decision-making, though.

The horrors of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward are still remembered by many in China.

Following the disastrous policies, the Communist leadership sought to prevent further chaos by tempering presidential power through a system in which major personnel and policy decisions were hashed out by the powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

Economist Andrew Polk of Trivium Research said in a newsletter that the changes will strengthen Xi’s hand in implementing his policy agenda but invoked Deng Xiaoping to question the long-term wisdom of the moves.

“To build the fate of a country on the renown of one or two people is very unhealthy and very dangerous,” Polk quoted Deng, the reformist leader who began the opening up of the country in the 1970s.

Speaking with their feet

China is increasingly susceptible to “key man risk”, Polk warned.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

That fear and memories of Mao’s rule are giving some Chinese pause about the direction of their nation.

Discussions of emigrating abroad and ferreting out assets are seeping into conversations in the capital and in chat groups online until censors find them.

One real estate agent selling to Chinese buyers in the Silicon Valley city of Palo Alto, California, said on social media he had seen a flood of new interest since the changes were announced.

Some agencies that help Chinese emigrate abroad say they have received a higher level of inquiries in recent days.

“We’ve been getting more calls than normal,” said Kitty from Globe Visa, which helps Chinese emigrate to the US and Canada.

“It has to do with the government.”

An employee at immigration consultancy Qiao Wai said they too had been receiving more calls than usual in recent days.

Data from China’s search engine Baidu Analytics showed searches for immigration skyrocketing in the hours after the announcement on Sunday.

By Tuesday, Baidu was no longer releasing the data to the public.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“We temporarily provide no data for the keyword ’emigrate’,” a search on its analytics platform returned.

Likewise, posting about immigration was blocked on Twitter-like Weibo and the Quora-like question website Zhihu stopped displaying related questions.

Click to comment

More on Capital Business

Executive Lifestyle

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – The country’s super wealthy individuals are increasing their holding of bonds, gold and cash, a new report by Knight...

Ask Kirubi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi has urged members of the public to exercise extreme caution when making any...

Ask Kirubi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi is set to own half of Centum Investment Company PLC, following a go-ahead...

Ask Kirubi

It is without a doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the whole world by surprise. Although its full impact is yet to be...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun17 – Kenya’s tea leaves manufacturer Kericho Gold, has been awarded the Superbrands Seal by Superbrands East Africa for their quality variety...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – Commercial Banks have been ordered to provide relief to borrowers on their personal loans, with loans eligible from March...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – As the local telecommunications industry gears up to roll out 5G networks in the country, the Communications Authority of...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Airtel Kenya is offering free internet access for students in order to enable continued learning at home in the...