A decorative plate featuring an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen beside a statue of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a souvenir store in Beijing on Feb. 27, 2018. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

In this occasional series, The Washington Post brings you up to speed on some of the biggest stories of the week. This week: In China, a dash of Putin and an echo of Mao.

The biggest story: China’s Xi sets himself up to rule for life 

China's Communist Party announced this week that it planned to abolish its two-term limit for presidents and vice presidents. In theory, such a change could allow the country's current leader, Xi Jinping, to govern for life — a worrying prospect for those who are concerned about his authoritarian tendencies.

Read the full story by Simon Denyer in Beijing.

But does this proposed change mean Xi will really be China's president until he dies? The evidence from other countries that abolished term limits is mixed, Adam Taylor writes in his analysis.


A woman picks a souvenir necklace with a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping from a selection at a stall in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Feb. 26, 2018. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Five other important stories

1. China detains relatives of U.S. reporters in apparent punishment for Xinjiang coverage

When Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, almost exactly five years ago, he declared that they had similar “personalities.” Repressive measures deployed against journalists appear to be another similarity between the Russian and Chinese leadership.

This week, China’s security services detained several close relatives of four U.S.-based reporters who work for Radio Free Asia — an apparent attempt to intimidate or punish them for their coverage of the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

Read the full story.

2. Journalism is under attack in Central Europe, too

Jan Kuciak, a 27-year-old investigative reporter, and his partner, Marina Kusnirova, were found slain in their apartment Sunday in Velka Maca, a village east of the Slovakian capital, Bratislava. European and Slovak authorities think the reporter was killed because of his reporting on fraud in the Central European country, Jason Rezaian writes.


A man makes his way past a police officer at the Newlands spring tap in Cape Town on Feb. 14, 2018. (Charlie Shoemaker for The Washington Post)

3. What happens when Cape Town runs out of water?

In the next few months, Cape Town’s taps could go dry, the result of a protracted drought and government failure to provide an alternative water source for this city of 4 million. Now, residents are scrambling to find private solutions. In modern history, no city in the developed world has ever run out of water. Cape Town’s experience may be a Hobbesian test of the way people on opposite ends of the 21st century’s income gap obtain the most basic resources in the direst of times.

Read the full story by Kevin Sieff.

4. Europe was so cold this week that the Arctic appeared to be a warm escape

Much of Europe went through a cold spell this week. But while Europe is buried under snow, the Arctic is witnessing one of its warmest winters ever. Scientists who study climate change think that both occurrences are connected.

Read the full story.

5. Tired of cozy coalitions, Germany’s millennials push for more partisanship

Young Americans or Britons may be sick of hyperpartisan divisions that seem to have left their countries mired in gridlock. But in Germany, teen and 20-something political activists are crying out for an end to the cozy consensus of the Merkel years.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Aug. 18, 2017. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

They want less dealmaking, more commitment to principles and a sharper distinction between the two establishment parties that have governed Germany throughout its postwar history. The desire of younger Germans to end the era of consensus could derail German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth term.

Read the full story by Griff Witte in Berlin.

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