The following open letter was posted to WeChat on February 26, 2018, by Li Datong (李大同), the former top editor of Freezing Point, a respected supplement of the China Youth Daily newspaper.  The letter has been one of the most prominent voices of criticism in the wake of the announcement that China would eliminate term limits for the president and vice-president, paving the way for Xi Jinping to serve beyond the end of his current term in 2023. 

To: Xu Tao (徐韬), Ren Ming (任鸣), Yang Yuanqing (杨元庆), Chen Jining (陈吉宁) and the rest of the 55 Beijing delegates to the National People's Congress.

Greetings All!

I am a Chinese citizen, and a voter in Beijing. You are delegates chosen by us, and you represent us in political deliberations and in political action — and you represent us in exercising the right to vote (表决权).

After speaking with many other voters who are of the same opinion as me and reaching common agreement, I decided to make an urgent call to you, urging you to enter dissenting votes during the 13th session of the National People's Congress that is about to take place, overruling the decision taken by the Party's Central Committee concerning the amendment of Article 14 of the Constitution to abolish term limits for the president.

As I understand it, the stipulation in the 1982 Constitution that the national leaders of China may not serve for more than two terms in office was political reform measure taken by the Chinese Communist Party and the people of China after the immense suffering wrought by the Cultural Revolution. This was the highest and most effective legal restriction preventing personal dictatorship and personal domination of the Party and the government, and it was a major point of progress in raising the level of political civilization in China, in line with historical trends. It was also one of the most important political legacies of Deng Xiaoping. China can only move forward on this foundation, and there is emphatically no reason to move in the reverse direction. Removing term limitations on national leaders will subject us to the ridicule of the civilized nations of the world. It means moving backward into history, and planting the seed once again of chaos in China, causing untold damage.

I ask you please to take the greatest interests of the Chinese people into consideration first and foremost, earnestly considering our request and submitting your dissenting vote — for the long-term peace and stability of China, and for the preservation of political civilization in China.

The Citizens (公民敬礼)

Li Datong (李大同)

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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