Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip has said that the impending removal of the Chinese presidents’ term limits is within reason under the country’s own political tradition and systems.

Delegates to the National People’s Congress applauded twice when the official explanation was read out at a key session on Monday. It said that “many regions, departments, party executives and the people unanimously urged to amend the constitution’s regulation.”

The text said that the change “will be conducive to safeguarding the authority and the unified leadership of the CCP Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core and to strengthening and perfecting the national leadership system.”

Regina Ip. File photo: In-Media.

When asked about the developments during a Commercial Radio programme on Monday, Ip said: “In the eyes of the Western system, of course this is going backwards, but China has its reasons under its own political tradition and system – policies are more stable with a centralisation of power.”

“The developments of democracy in the Western world over these past few years included a sudden referendum causing Brexit, the US voting for Trump through one-person-one-vote, the climate accord signed by Obama being torn apart – many things just turned upside suddenly. China feels this is not good, it prefers stability over all,” Ip added.

China had been under a centralised system of power since Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China, more than 2,000 years ago.

Ip studied democracy under Larry Diamond, a top professor at Stanford University in the US.

Photo: In-Media.

Ip – whose party did not have any delegates at the NPC – said China should build its own monitoring system and rule of law, when asked whether the proposed change could create dictators.

“The spirit of the rule of law in the Western world – from the Magna Carta in 1215 – is to limit power, it has high standards for human rights and freedom – China did not have this traditions in the previous thousands of years,” said Ip.

“We only had lawyers and judges in the recent few decades. There were no courts during the Cultural Revolution. We are only training lawyers now.”

“In the past, the police acted as judges. It takes time to train new lawyers and judges,” she added.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.