Win for Democracy: China Scraps Presidential Term Limits

Win for Democracy: China Scraps Presidential Term Limits

China's new amendment to remove presidential term limits will democratize and strengthen the nation.
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Sunday, February 25, Xi Jinping, China’s popular and charismatic president, defied political convention when he proposed scrapping the presidential term limit, the first proposed amendment to the Chinese Constitution since 2004. Following the lengthy presidency of Deng Xiaoping (which was preceded by the equally lengthy chairmanship of Mao Tse-tung), China adopted for its highest office a time limit of two five year terms. As of right now, Xi is in the fifth year of his first term and will begin his second and possibly final term in March. The amendment will allow him to run for another. Though many western media outlets have decried this move, using even more than the usual amount of orientalist language, this will actually make China all the more democratic and ensure strong, capable leadership well into the future.

Official term limits, however well-meaning, are simply unnecessary. All elected leaders, no matter what the constitution does or doesn’t say, have term limits. They can only serve however long they can get the votes for. The Chinese people have questioned rigid, arbitrary, and undemocratic restrictions. Like the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. To put it a bit more eloquently, as Xi did at the Second Plenary Session of the CPC Central Committee back in 2013: “an official … should act boldly and effectively in work, but he should also ensure consistency and continuity in the work.” The people want continued anti-corruption measures. They want to continue the modernization of the growing urban centers, the rural countryside, and Tibet. They want to remain optimistic and stay proud of their country and their government. In short, they want Xi.

Now more than ever, China needs skilled, experienced statesmen. Just in the last year, with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, there have been more than enough cautionary tales showing us the dangers of great nations electing not-so-great leaders. Despite what “democratic activists” in Hong Kong might tell you, no one is grabbing power. We must remember that Xi is not even finished with his first term. Meanwhile, Germany’s Angela Merkel is on her way to a fourth consecutive term, having served thirteen years and counting as chancellor. No one is becoming president for life. Like the American Congress, they’re allowing more terms for leaders who can earn the vote more than twice.

The Chinese government and people are recognizing that China is in a place in its historical development that is unprecedented. In the last five years of Xi’s presidency, China has been eliminating poverty at breakneck speeds, all the while carrying out large-scale anti-corruption campaigns which have added a lot of fresh faces and removed more than a few old ones from the highest levels of government. And with nearly $1 trillion being put into the New Silk Road Economic Belt, China can’t afford to wait for a new president to learn the ropes.

With the nation set to become the world’s largest economy by 2020, their actions have consequences which reach far beyond just China. The sheer size and scale of their economy cannot be understated. Chinese goods can be found in every country in the world and many large foreign companies still favor Chinese labor, even as the costs mount. Despite its size, theirs is also one of, if not, the most stable markets in the world. And while nations like the United States, Japan, and Australia hope to compete against the emerging superpower, many are cheering as our once unipolar world opens up.

Though rarely mentioned by the Sinophobic western media, China’s development programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have been nothing short of life changing. In addition to offering low interest loans and helping develop industry and agriculture across the world, China has forgiven just as much as they’ve lent, allowing struggling nations like Zimbabwe to get back on their feet. That’s without mentioning the 600 million people in China who have been pulled up from poverty in just the last few years.

China’s policies and strategy have been working, not just for China but for the world. A major change in leadership at this critical junction would be foolhardy at best, disastrous at worst. Lifting the restriction on term limits will only democratize and strengthen the country. I, for one, applaud the amendment; as I applaud President Xi on his successful first term, look forward to his second, and will have to wait and see about a possible third.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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