The Straits Times says

Keeping check on rule by a strongman

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A troika of strong leaders in China, Japan and India has been part of contemporary optimism about the foundation being laid for Asia's rise. While leadership strength in general is viewed as a blessing, too much of it can be a curse. Revolving-door prime ministers in Japan and Italy in the past led to political dysfunction. But also dreaded are entrenched strongmen, as exemplified by Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe (who held power for 37 years before he was forced out) and South Africa's Jacob Zuma (ousted dramatically last month).

Yet comparing the power dynamics elsewhere with what prevails in China would not be apt. The typical Western reaction to the removal of a term limit for the Chinese state president is that "what is re-emerging is strongman rule", as one commentator put it. Through this lens, Mr Xi Jinping is jettisoning transformational leader Deng Xiaoping's effort to avoid a dictatorship via the term-limit requirement.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline Keeping check on rule by a strongman. Subscribe