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'Not My President': Chinese Students Abroad Oppose Xi Jinping's Indefinite Rule

China's parliament on Sunday allowed 64-year-old Xi to rule indefinitely as it ratified a contentious constitutional amendment to abolish the two-term presidential limit, making him the most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong.

PTI

Updated:March 12, 2018, 5:59 PM IST
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'Not My President': Chinese Students Abroad Oppose Xi Jinping's Indefinite Rule
Anti-Xi posters have appeared in Deakin University campus in Melbourne.
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Melbourne/London: Chinese President Xi Jinping may have been allowed to rule indefinitely, perhaps for life, but posters against him have surfaced in several foreign varsities, including in the US, UK and Australia, according to media reports.

China's parliament on Sunday allowed 64-year-old Xi to rule indefinitely as it ratified a contentious constitutional amendment to abolish the two-term presidential limit, making him the most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong.

The posters, written in Chinese and English, have featured phrases such as "not my president" and "I disagree".

They began appearing on some US university campuses last week, and were later reported in countries, including the UK, France, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada, the BBC reported.

A Twitter account @StopXiJinping has been posting links to the posters for download, and encouraging others to join what it calls "our campaign", it added.

Someone operating the account was quoted as saying by the report that it was being run by Chinese university students and graduates who were living abroad but wished to remain anonymous.

"We spoke up as we genuinely believe that Chinese citizens, overseas or at home, have the right to express opinions free from fear," the account tweeted on Friday.

Wu Lebao, an Australian National University student, said he had put up the posters to raise awareness among his peers.

"By posting those bills, I want to impress on them that there is a significant change occurring in China," Wu said.

He said Xi performed as a dictator for years since he went into power, but the move would give him more absolute power.

Students at universities in Hong Kong, the UK, the Netherlands and Canada have also followed their US counterparts in registering their dissent by putting up the campaign's posters on their campuses

"We were even more furious that the government think it's ok to hush the people up, while promoting this propaganda that Xi's staying in power was Chinese people's wish'," the campaign organisers were quoted as saying by SBS News.

"So we started this campaign as a response to that: there are still social media that you can't censor, and it's definitely not our wish that an unelected authoritarian become a de facto lifetime dictator."

China heavily censors social media domestically and tolerates very little in the way of political dissent.

David Brophy, a lecturer in Chinese history at University of Sydney, said he was surprised to see such a public display of dissent from the overseas students.

"There is a strong sense among some students that it's best to raise criticism within their community, rather than air them more publicly to a Western audience," he told the BBC.

Such discretion is fuelled by concerns about whether students abroad are being monitored by China.

"For anyone who plans to go back to China in the future, they do incur a risk by being visible as politically active," Brophy said.

The Twitter campaign has advised students to put up posters only at night, and to wear face masks.

The Constitutional amendment to give Xi an indefinite term effectively ended the collective leadership system followed by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to avert a dictatorship from emerging in an otherwise one-party state akin to the era of Mao which witnessed the most brutal events like Cultural Revolution resulting in the killings of millions of people.

Set for his second five-year term as president this month, Xi, the most powerful leader in recent decades heading the CPC and the military, will now be the first Chinese leader after founder Chairman Mao to remain in power lifelong.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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