China’s 13th annual Lianghui government meeting last week brought delegates from around the country to Beijing to pass new laws, discuss China’s goals for this year, and form the 13th Five-Year Plan. The Lianghui (两会), meaning “two sessions” in Chinese, is the annual convention for China’s legislative body, the National People’s Congress (NPC), and its civil society advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). On paper, it presents an opportunity for around 5000 representatives from many provinces, ethnic minorities and sectors of Chinese Society to raise concerns and influence the policy agenda. However, the NPC is criticized for it’s rubber-stamp role, as the Chinese Communist Party leaders hold the real policymaking power.
Despite its mostly ceremonial nature, the Lianghui still offers valuable insight into China’s political scene and the country’s future direction. Here are the top 5 topics addressed at this year’s Lianghui that Pengyous should be aware of.
- The Economy: China’s main concern is its slowing economy. Premier Li Keqiang announced in a speech last week that China plans to maintain 6.5-7% GDP growth each year until 2020.
- Industry and Unemployment: China will reform overproducing state-owned enterprises along with high-pollution heavy industry sectors including coal, oil, steel and cement. Although the reforms require layoffs for millions of factory workers, the government will create a $15.3 billion unemployment support fund to compensate. China also aims to create 10 million new urban jobs this year.
- Military and Security: On March 13, China announced plans to establish an international maritime judicial center to better protect its national sovereignty and help arbitrate maritime disputes over territorial claims in the South China Sea and other areas.
- The Environment: China’s new Five Year Plan includes expanding soil pollution monitoring and reducing the pollution-to-growth ratio by 18% before 2020. However, China’s leaders are still reluctant to regulate the heavy-polluting factory and mine production driving economic growth.
- Cross-Strait Relations: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s March 5 speech confirmed that China intends to continue building stronger ties with Taiwan, but that these developments depend on Taiwan accepting the “One China” view and refraining from independence-minded actions.
How effective will these policies and reforms be? Check back in the coming months to learn how China puts this year’s goals into practice!
Source: Image from One to One Chinese.