South Asia and Beyond

China: Amid Economic Gloom, National People’s Congress Session Seeks To Boost Morale

 China: Amid Economic Gloom, National People’s Congress Session Seeks To Boost Morale

On March 5, China’s newly appointed Premier Li Qiang, will present his first work report at the annual session of the National People’s Congress (parliament). Called “Two Sessions”, it will unveil the government’s targets for China’s economic growth and the likely deficit; and the broader strategy for economic, social, and foreign policies for the current year. The military budget will also be presented.

The “Two Sessions” could provide clues to many questions. According to the Asia Society Policy Institute, a key matter is how powerful President Xi is in the first year of his third term. Or what could be his political and legislative priorities for this year? How will he balance economic growth and national security? or what lies ahead for US-China and China-Taiwan relations? More important, what conclusions can investors and companies, policymakers and others draw from this?

A BBC report quoting official data, indicates that 17 out of China’s 31 provinces fell short of their 2023 GDP targets. Looking ahead to 2024, economic growth aspirations in nearly all regions either match or are lower than the previous year, signalling a cautious outlook. A primary factor is the impact of the downturn in real estate, prompting some heavily indebted provinces and cities to revise down their growth targets for the current year. Major economic hubs like Beijing and Shanghai have set their growth targets around 5%.

On Weibo, a multitude of hashtags and posts titled “Welcoming the National Two Sessions” are circulating. These are evidently intended to reassure citizens at a time of growing gloom over the country’s economic direction. Provincial governments have already got into top gear with their propaganda campaigns targeting students across college and university campuses.

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President Xi Jinping has used the “Two Sessions” event in the past to announce major policy declarations. This time there could be important constitutional changes.

This event, known as the “two sessions,” involves simultaneous annual assemblies of both the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), albeit conducted separately. While the CPPCC opera advisory body, the 3,000-member NPC serves as the legislative arm of the CCP, albeit primarily carrying out ceremonial duties. Its members represent a diverse spectrum of individuals, including business leaders, public figures, and esteemed personalities.

As China prepares for the Two Sessions, which will be closely observed worldwide this time due to frequent headlines about China’s economy, some experts point out that domestic demand is significantly low. Consequently, numerous factories in China are operating at reduced capacity.

Resham

Research Associate at StratNewsGlobal, A keen observer of #China and Foreign Affairs. Writer, Weibo Trends, Analyst. Twitter: @resham_sng

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