China’s Annual Parliament Meeting: What You Need to Know

China’s annual parliamentary meeting has ended. Here are the key takeaways

China’s annual parliamentary sessions, spanning a week, concluded on Monday, marking a departure from decades-long tradition as the Chinese premier refrained from hosting a customary press conference for the first time.

Breaking from convention, the premier’s absence from this year’s post-parliamentary press briefing was announced last week, signaling a shift that is expected to persist for the remainder of the term, as per official statements.

These press conferences had been rare instances of direct interaction between the press and the highest echelons of China’s government.

During the closing ceremony, President Xi Jinping notably did not deliver a speech. Traditionally, Xi addresses only the closing ceremonies of the first sessions of each National People’s Congress, the apex legislative body elected every five years. This year’s gathering marked the second session of the 14th National People’s Congress.

China's Annual Parliament Meeting: What You Need to Know
China’s Annual Parliament Meeting: What You Need to Know (Credits: Reuters)

It’s crucial to understand that these annual assemblies primarily serve ceremonial purposes. The true locus of power resides within the ruling Communist Party, led by Xi, who holds the positions of general secretary of the party and president of China.

Nonetheless, pronouncements made during the Congress can offer insights into government policies.

Key highlights from this year’s week-long parliamentary sessions, which commenced last Tuesday and concluded on Monday, include:

Environmental Initiatives: Notably, the Government Work Report (GWR) underscored commitments to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by approximately 2.5% in 2024. This marked a departure from previous years, where such numeric targets were not explicitly set. Analysts cautioned that potential environmental policy tightening could pose growth risks.

Economic Emphasis on Manufacturing: Premier Li Qiang announced a growth target of around 5% for 2024 at the outset of the meetings. Industrial support emerged as a top priority, with significant plans unveiled to boost equipment upgrades, projected to stimulate a market worth over 5 trillion yuan ($694.5 billion).

In contrast, less emphasis was placed on real estate, with the Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development stressing the need for bankrupt property developers to face consequences for actions harming public interests.

State Council Structural Revisions: Under Xi’s leadership, the Chinese Communist Party has intensified its oversight of the government. Amendments to the structure of the State Council, the top executive body led by the premier, were ratified during this year’s session.

These changes, including the inclusion of vice premiers and the head of the People’s Bank of China in the council’s top leadership group, passed with overwhelming support from delegates. The full implications of these revisions remain to be seen.

These parliamentary meetings serve as a window into China’s policy direction and the evolving dynamics within its political landscape.

Im Ashley, I'm from India but you will often find me covering non india celebrity news.