As he set to cement his power by removing the two-term limit, Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to appoint four Vice Premiers to work on popular programmes like poverty relief, environmental protection and improving economy which would enhance his image at home.
Speculation about the appointment of four Vice Premiers came as China on Friday commenced its well-choreographed annual parliament which was expected to endorse the ruling the Communist Party of China (CPC) proposal to amend the Constitution removing the two-term rule for President and Vice President. China now has two Vice Premiers.
Currently, the Chinese constitution, which has been in effect since 1982, prohibits more than two terms for the president and the vice-president. Since 1992, the president has also held the position of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. The removal of term limits, an issue which was taken up during the third plenary of the 19th Congress, is likely to be given approval by the rubber-stamp Congress on 5 March.
The proposal sparked off speculation that Xi, who is on course to become modern "China's Emperor", wielding unquestionable power exercised by the party founder, Mao Zedong in the heydays of revolution is working on populist agenda which would contribute to his public image. This is probably an acceptance of the long-held belief that the US under Donald Trump is losing its global prominence to China.
In the course of next two weeks the China Peoples Political Consultative Conference, (CPPCC) an advisory body and the National Peoples Congress, (NPC) would meet to clear a broad agenda.
The CPPCC spokesperson Wang Guoqing kicked off the political season on Friday with a nationally televised press conference in which he took selected questions mostly from the Chinese official media on issues like poverty alleviation, US plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium etc.
Conspicuous by their absence were any questions on the removal of the two-term limit for President and Vice President which made headlines at home and abroad.
The NPC often referred as rubber stand Parliament for its routine endorsement of the CPC proposals is set to meet from March 5 with the presentation of work report by Premier Li Keqiang.
During the next two weeks, various Ministers including Foreign Minister Wang Yi would address the media. The season will end with the press conference by Li.
This may be the last tenure for several Ministers as the CPC has already finalised a new set of Ministers and officials as they have completed five-year terms. There will be a complete makeover of the government.
The seven-member all-powerful Standing Committee of the CPC, which rules the country is also set for a change as barring Xi and Li the rest have retired. A new Standing Committee had been elected last by the once-in-a-five-year Congress of the CPC.
Hong Kong-based the 'South China Morning Post' has reported that Xi has identified four CPC officials — Hu Chunhua, Han Zheng, Liu He and He Lifeng, for the post of vice premiers who are likely to be put in charge of the Chinese President's top three priorities of poverty relief, environmental protection, the control of economic risks.
(With PTI inputs)