China’s ‘2 sessions’: Economy, globalization up for scrutiny

BEIJING-- China's economy and support for globalization are up for scrutiny as Chinese top leaders started the top annual political meetings -- also known as 'two sessions' that officially kicked off last weekend.

Over 3,000 national and local leaders, deputies, businessmen and celebrities including Hollywood action star Jackie Chan and former NBA star Yao Ming attended the opening of the 5th Session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

The NPC's 5th Session started last Sunday while the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) opened its own 5th Session of the National Committee last Friday both at the Great Hall of the People.

In China's political landscape, the NPC is the country's top legislative body and the supreme organ of state power composed of deputies elected from provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities under central government, special administration regions, armed forces and ethnic groups.

On the other hand, the CPPCC is the top advisory body composed of representatives from the Communist Party of China, all democratic parties, personages without party affiliation, mass organizations, all ethnic groups and sectors of society.

Every year, NPC and CPPCC members gather in Beijing for a two-week full annual two sessions, also locally known as "lianghui", to report what they have done the previous year and what they intend to do in the coming year to sustain the economic development.

This year 'two sessions' will have the world's leaders and observers watching how China handled it's economy and its growing role in globalization despite grave challenges posed by many problems and interwoven risks and dangers here and abroad last year.

"Under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the CPC with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we the Chinese people have risen to the challenge and worked hard to press ahead, driving forward sustained, healthy economic and social development," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in his government work report.

Li said China's GDP reached 74.4 trillion Yuan, representing 6.7 percent growth which was within the 6.5 to 7 percent target.

"China contributed more than 30 percent of global growth. Economic performance improved markedly in quality and returns," he said.

He said 13.14 million new urban jobs have been created while living standards of the Chinese people have been improved after number of people living in poverty in rural areas have been reduced to 12.4 million.

"We have safeguarded China's economic and financial security," Li said.

Last year, Li said government opened China wider to the rest of the world, pushing ahead the Belt and Road Initiative and other international coordination and cooperation to boost friendship and diplomatic relations with more countries.

He said China utilized more than USD130 billion of overseas investment, continuing to rank first among development countries.

"China was actively involved in reforming and improving the global governance system," he said.

In 2017, Li said China will continue to actively expand its opening up to the world by pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, hoping to entice more countries to join the initiative to build overland economic corridors and maritime cooperation hubs in Asia, Africa and Europe.

"We will ensure that foreign trade continues to pick up and register steady growth," he said.

China will also make big moves to improve the environment for foreign investors and will promote liberalization and facilitation of international trade and investment, according to the Chinese Premier.

"Economic globalization is in the fundamental interest of all countries. China will not shift in its commitment to promote global economic cooperation. China is ready to join hands with other countries," he added.

On the part of the CPPCC, National Committee chairman Yu Zhengsheng said the top advisory body will make good use of its strengths to deepen ties with friends abroad though central government's overall diplomatic work plan.

"We will continue to promote high-level exchange of visits with our foreign counterparts. We will carry out public diplomacy and cultural exchanges, and increase international communication," Yu said.

Wang Yiwei, professor of Renmin University of China, said China is not just an engine for the world's economic growth but a powerhouse of the structural reform.

"Structural reform is every country's job. Otherwise, the world's economy will be unhealthy and economic growth will be unsustainable. So China is also taking a leading role in this regard," Wang said.

Wang said China's focused on technological institutional innovation must also be the concern of the world's other leading economies.

He believes that China's economy will continue to be strong due to the political stability under the leadership of President Xi Jingping, who is also secretary general of the CPC and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

"Xi Jingping is the first core leader of China who is the President, CPC Secretary-General and Central Military Commission chairman," Wang told the journalists of the China South Asia and Southeast Asia Press Center (CSASEAPC).

During the two sessions, Chinese leaders and lawmakers will also discuss and approve the country's budget, various government reports and policies that will sustain innovation-driven economic development.

The government set 6.5 percent GDP growth target, hoping to create another 11 million jobs and post at least 4.5 percent unemployment rate.

For a steady and improved macroeconomic policies, the tax burden on businesses will be further eased by around 350 billion Yuan and cut business related fees by around 200 billion Yuan, according to Li.

To address pollution problem, he said steel production capacity will be further reduced by 50 million metric tons while at least 150 million metric tons of coal production facilities will be shut down.

In a press conference on Monday, the country's economic advisers from CPPCC said they believe supply-side structural reform and technological innovation are the major driving forces of China's economic development.

"China is seeking stable and healthy economic development through ongoing supply-side structural reform," economic adviser Chang Zhenming said.

The economic advisers also warned government to set focus various financial risks particularly on areas that are unregulated like commercial banks' bad loans and debts.

The CPPCC members said if the people will work together "they can make great achievements" and make China the top economy of the world in the future.

The two sessions will last for two weeks.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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