Two Sessions’ opened with government work report . . .
The annual meetings of China’s top legislative and political bodies, known as the ‘Two Sessions,’ or Lianghui, kicked off in Beijing on March 4. Thousands of representatives from across the country gathered for the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) meetings to submit policy proposals and discuss priority issues. A key deliverable at the NPC’s opening was the government work report, which summarizes the administration’s accomplishments in the past year and introduces its social and economic goals for the upcoming year. A major revelation in this report was the country’s gross domestic product growth target for 2022, set at “around 5.5 per cent.”
Economic stability remains top priority . . .
Beijing’s new economic growth projection, although on the higher end of what had been anticipated, indicates its caution in light of “increased challenges and risks” in the “evolving landscapes both at home and abroad.” Domestic factors include prolonged restrictions from China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy, which has interrupted production and domestic consumption, as well as ongoing struggles related to the plunging property market and mounting local government debts. Internationally, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is gumming up logistics and global energy supply chains. These developments have prompted Beijing to prioritize economic stability above all else. Other goals, such as creating more than 11 million new urban jobs, improving the income and wealth distribution system, and keeping consumer inflation in check, are continuations of the previous year’s targets.
Social issues in the spotlight . . .
Several social issues, such as tackling challenges related to China’s aging population and declining birth rate, are also highlighted in the work report. Additionally, Premier Li Keqiang vowed to “severely crack down on women and children trafficking crimes,” answering the public outcry for protecting the rights of women and children. Recent viral footage of a chained woman, allegedly the victim of human trafficking and forced marriage, has renewed discussions about gender equity and rights, and sparked expressions of dissatisfaction with the local government’s initial handling of the case. This issue is expected to remain an important topic of discussion as the ‘Two Sessions’ enter the policy proposal review stage.
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