UNITED States President Donald Trump had an unexpected reaction to China President Xi Jinping’s move to end the constitutional two-term limit on the country’s presidency. Trump’ reaction: “He’s now president for life, president for life.… And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”
China’s constitution limited a president to two five-year terms. The system was devised by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982, to avoid excesses by a life-long ruler. Before Deng, China had been ruled by Mao Zedong whose term was marked by the 1966-1976 “Cultural Revolution,” described by some historians as a chaotic period in China’s history.
It was under Deng that China began the economic growth that made the country the world’s second biggest economy next to the US, but he gave way to other younger leaders and he put in place a system designed to avoid the excesses of lifelong rule. That system, including a two-term limit for the president, has now been overturned by President Xi Jinping who has been in power since 2012.
The US has its own two-term presidential limit. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to get elected to four terms – from 1936 until his death in 1945 – as the American electorate chose to stick with him in the middle of World War II. After his death, however, Americans approved Constitutional Amendment No. 22 limiting American presidents to two four-year terms.
Considering this bit of American history, it was surprising to hear President Trump praise China’s move to eliminate presidential term limits and even add that the US may also try it someday. But then, President Trump has become known for saying the most unexpected things and taking the most unexpected positions on various issues, even against his own party.
Our own Philippine President might want to give his own views on this matter as we too have a limit of two six-year terms for the president. He has already repeatedly declared his readiness to step down after he achieves his goal of amending the Constitution to create a federal system of government for the country. But with these developing events in China and the US, he might have something new to add.
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