|Metok, north of Upper Siang district of Arunachal|
Xi Jinping made it. He can now retain his seat for life.
The South China Morning Post reported: “Under the watch of a confident and relaxed President Xi Jinping, nearly 3,000 Chinese lawmakers were nearly unanimous in their approval of changes to the state constitution that included removing the term limit on the presidency.”
The Hong Kong newspaper said that Xi, who had maintained a poker face throughout the opening day of People’s National Congress (NPC), appeared ‘much more at ease after the vote’.
Only two of the 2,964 deputies voted against the constitutional revisions; the process was over in just one hour: no debate took place, no discussion and not even canvassing. Done!
While the international press mainly noted the Emperor-for-life aspect, there is more to the recent amendments of the Chinese Constitution.
The China Daily titled: ‘Xi leading the charge on reform’.
Perhaps more than a personal determination to emulate Mao, Xi seems to want to transform China into a great power; he calls it the ‘Chinese Dream’.
Will Xi leave place for others to exist in the process is a recurrent question.
On March 5, during an interaction with the deputies from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xi elaborated his vision for the new era “a way to realize the people's aspiration to live a better life and push forward China's modernization.”
2018, which marks the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's opening-up policy, will see a string of changes which should take China closer to ‘a moderately prosperous society in all respects’.
Xi pledged to continue deepening reform with ‘great political courage’; to move forward, the Chinese people were ready to ‘cut paths through mountains, and build bridges across rivers’, he said.
A day after Xi’s ‘promotion’, more than two dozen ministries and agencies were overhauled to give the Communist Party greater control …and more teeth.
The South China Morning remarked: “The sweeping institutional changes are part of Xi’s plan to improve the Communist Party’s governing efficiency by shaking up vested interests among agencies.”
It includes the merger of the banking and insurance regulators, a special ministry to oversee the status of military veterans and a new Discipline Commission with larger powers to tackle rampant corruption.
The nomination of a Vice-president, Xi’s friend and close collaborator, Wang Qishan, is another sign of change.
One of the not-often mentioned reforms stressed by Xi Jinping, is the deepening of the “military-civilian integration to provide impetus and support for realizing the Chinese dream and the goal to build a strong military.”
On the side of the NPC, Xi, who also Chairman of the all-powerful Central Ministry Commission (CMC) met the PLA delegation; he told them: “Implementing the strategy of military-civilian integration is a prerequisite for building integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities."
He urged the defence forces to “promote military development featuring higher quality, efficiency, and scientific and technological levels.”
Another aspect of the reform is the development of China’s land borders (with India in particular). Not only will the military-civilian integration translate into new infrastructure on India’s northern borders, but the development will be labeled ‘infrastructure for tourism’, while being used by the PLA to reinforce its position.
A ‘democratic’ touch is being given to the process.
Soon after the conclusion of the 19th Congress in November last year, President Xi Jinping sent an answer to two young Tibetan herders who had written to him introducing their village, Yume, north of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
Xi encouraged the sisters: “to set down roots in the border area, safeguard the Chinese territory and develop their hometown. Without the peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for the millions of families."
Drolkar and Yangzom, the two sisters, had told Xi about their experience of living in a border area; their village, Yume is not far from the remote Indian village of Takshing.
A letter from the Emperor was enough for Drolkar to get a seat as a NPC deputy. Drolkar's sudden celebrity has helped her village to grow exponentially; many Tibetans from the nearby villages now want to move their homes to Yume. Villagers are building new guest accommodations to receive Han tourists, who have started pouring in. As a result the village will become wealthier ...and the border more stable.
That is precisely the Emperor's plan.
Another deputy to the NPC, Kelsang Dekyi comes from Metok, north of Tuting sector of Arunachal, which recently witnessed a border intrusion (with Chinese excavators).
Kelsang Dekyi was born in 1978, symbolically the beginning of an era which saw the Chinese people “relying on knowledge to change its destiny;” she grew up in Metok County “once a remote, poverty-stricken, and information-poor area.”
Kelsang Dekyi told a press conference in Beijing: “Our school building was very poor; teachers and students had to pick grass to cover the roof. The grass was taller than we were, so when we were walking back we'd often trip, and we often had our hands cut. However, if we didn't pick the grass, we couldn't cover the roof, and rainwater would leak into the classroom."
These two appointments show the importance that Xi attaches to the border with India.
Statistics show the 75% of the NPC’s deputies are new faces, with similar stories. Will it help China to build a better China? It is not certain, because many of these nominations are just for the show.
Incidentally, would a local girl from Takshing village on the Indian side of the border, write a letter to Delhi? One can bet that it would go unnoticed by the authorities; it may not even be delivered. Still India is a democratic nation.