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"Two sessions" anticipated amid new political, economic landscape<BR>

2015-March-2       Source: Xinhuanet.com

Despite there being no change in government on the agenda, China's routine March meetings -- dubbed the "two sessions" -- are set to be closely watched as the country's political and economic dynamics are changing significantly.

Despite there being no change in government on the agenda, China's routine March meetings -- dubbed the "two sessions" -- are set to be closely watched as the country's political and economic dynamics are changing significantly.

Attention will be focused on China next week as lawmakers and political advisors attend the annual full sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body.

The two sessions are held to discuss political and economic developments, and adopt policies to deliver the reform promises and economic growth targets set by the Chinese authorities.

Over the years, the sessions have helped navigate the development of China, which is not only very important to the country itself, but also matters much to the world.

FOUR COMPREHENSIVES

Since Wednesday, the Communist Party of China mouthpiece the People's Daily has been running a series of editorials to elaborate on and promote President Xi Jinping's new political theory ahead of the two sessions.

The theory, called the "Four Comprehensives", refers to "comprehensively" building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing rule of law and strictly governing the Party.

The four aspects are strategic objectives outlined in Xi's blueprint for China's future. Analysts believe the two sessions will provide an ideal occasion to discuss the new theory and help pool strength to implement it.

Ding Yuanzhu, of the Chinese Academy of Governance, expects extensive discussion among lawmakers and political advisors, saying that the Four Comprehensives theory focuses on the four key issues in China's modernization drive.

Kuang Xianming, director of the research center for economy under the China Institute for Reform and Development, said the importance of this year's two sessions could be associated with the expected role of the year 2015 in China's development history.

China is embracing complex and fast-changing circumstances at home and abroad, and there has been a combination of pressure from slowing growth, difficulties in restructuring the economy, and urgency to deepen reform, he said.

The Chinese leadership has defined the year 2015 as "the key year of comprehensively deepening reforms", "the first year of comprehensively promoting rule of law" and "the final year of the 12th Five-year Plan".

These comments in themselves suggest formidable missions ahead for China. Of the 336 reform tasks listed in the blueprint which was laid out during a key meeting in November 2013, 80 tasks for 2014 have been "basically finished", but a lot more work is needed toward the rest, Ding said.

ECONOMIC "NEW NORMAL"

The Chinese leadership has pinned much hope on more decisive reforms to counter the downward pressure on the world's second-largest economy, which has slowed down to a state of "new normal".

The term "new normal" gained ground in China in May 2014, when President Xi, during an inspection tour of central China's Henan Province, described the need to adapt and remain cool-headed as growth slows.

In the 35 years between 1978 and 2013, annual growth of the Chinese economy averaged close to 10 percent and, between 2003 and 2007, it was over 11.5 percent. However, the "good old days" had to end. Growth decelerated to 7.7 percent in 2012 and 2013.

In 2014, China's gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed 10 trillion U.S. dollars by growing 7.4 percent, against the government-set growth target of "around 7.5 percent", registering its weakest annual expansion since 1990.

The new normal means adjusting to slower growth. More importantly, it also means more sustainable and efficient growth for several decades to come -- at least, that is the aim.

Zheng Xinli, deputy director of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the Chinese economy still has much growth potential since its GDP per capita stood at no more than 7,500 U.S. dollars in 2014.

"There are systemic barriers which constrain the development of China's productivity, so we should unleash growth potential through further reforms," according to Zheng.

The Chinese government is likely to lower its GDP growth target for 2015 to "around 7 percent", he said, joining a wave of experts guessing the government-set growth target.

Over recent months, Chinese and global financial institutions have been closely watching the Chinese economy and some have been speculating about the growth target for 2015, which will be announced by Premier Li Keqiang in the government work report at the opening of the NPC on March 5.

"We expect a 7- to 7.5-percent GDP target... Despite a lower GDP growth target, growth supporting policies are expected to be rolled out continuously as Beijing still sees stable growth as a needed backdrop for the ongoing reforms," said HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin.

 

Editor: 王凯

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