Authored by Dorothy Li via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s life tenure has created not only political challenges at home but difficulties in the bilateral relationship with the United States, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton’s comment at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore came as tensions between Beijing and Washington remain high, including over China’s military aggressions in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea and the U.S. restrictions on high-end technologies exports and investment that has the risk of supping the communist regime’s military ambition.
The future of U.S.-China relations “really depends upon what Xi Jinping’s goals are,” Mrs. Clinton said at the summit via video link on Thursday.
“Once Xi Jinping decided to stay in office for life, that creates a lot of…challenges within their own system,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We’re seeing some of that with the removal of top officials, some of the economic problems in the Chinese economy, but it also creates a kind of chilling effect in terms of relations. “
“How do you deal with somebody who’s not going to be held accountable?“
Mr. Xi claimed a third term as the head of the state during the annual session of China’s rubber-stamp parliament in March, completing the transition to the country’s most powerful chairman since Mao Zedong.
Now, he is poised to rule the country indefinitely. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has already cleared the way for that move, deleting the two-term limits on the country’s position of chairman from the regime’s Constitution in 2018.
While the position of the state chairman is a largely ceremonial role in China’s governing system—the main power coming from the role of Party chief — it’s the only post that Mr. Xi holds with term limits. The 70-year-old leader has two other titles: general secretary of the CCP and the chairman of the Central Military Commission that commends the Party’s military wing. Neither of them limits the tenures.
Mr. Xi, who became the state chairman a decade ago, has already stayed in power longer than his immediate predecessors—Jiang Zemin and then Hu Jintao — who stepped down after two five-year terms.
“Hu Jintao was a Chinese leader who decided he would not stay for life,” Mrs. Clinton said. “So there could be a constant renewing of both the Chinese government and, through that, the American relationship.”
Mrs. Clinton expected to see more coming out of the meeting between Mr. Xi and President Joe Biden at the sideline of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Fransico. The exchange on Nov. 15 will be the two leaders’ first in-person meeting in nearly a year amid growing friction between Beijing and Washington.
Mrs. Clinton said there has been “a real chill” from China about American business operating in the country. At the same time, there are pressures from the U.S. Congress to counter the threat posed by communist China, she said.
The Biden-Xi engagement, according to Mrs. Clinton, created “a terrific opportunity” for the world’s two largest economies to “reset the table.”
According to China’s foreign ministry, Mr. Xi will visit the United States from Nov. 14 through Nov. 17, the first trip in more than six years.
Mr. Xi’s upcoming U.S. trip came as geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington further dented foreign investors’ confidence in the country amid domestic economic woes. The real estate sector once contributing to nearly one-third of China’s GDP, is on the edge of collapse, threatening the savings of millions of middle-class families when the youth unemployment rate hits a record high.
Western businesses’ confidence in the country has dropped to the lowest point in decades, according to two recent surveys from China’s American and European business lobbying groups.
Concerns cited by the report from the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai include the tensions with the West, and the regime’s crackdown on foreign business. Officials have slapped Mintz, a U.S. due diligence firm, with a $1.5 million fine in a security crackdown after police raided its Beijing office and detained five of its local employees earlier this year.
Apart from Mintz, Chinese police have raided the offices of consultancy Capvision, questioned employees at U.S. due diligence Bain, and detained staff from Japanese drug maker Astellas.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce, in China’s paper, attributes investors’ sluggish confidence to the regime’s tightening control over perceived threats in data, national security, and espionage. In July, the updated anti-espionage law came into force. The legislation expanded the definition of espionage to include “all documents, data, materials, or items related to national security and interests,” but did not specify what falls under national security, adding to concerns among business leaders.