China’s 2024 “Two Sessions”: What to expect?

 By Ashu Maan
0
483

Introduction

“Two Sessions” refers to two important annual meetings in China: the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). These meetings are significant events in China’s political calendar, where critical decisions are made regarding policies, laws, and leadership appointments.

NPC and CPPCC

  • National People’s Congress (NPC): As China’s top legislative body, the NPC is responsible for enacting laws, amending the constitution, and overseeing significant decisions of the state. It is China’s highest organ of state power, and its annual session typically takes place in March. Thousands of delegates from China convene in Beijing to discuss and vote on various legislative and policy matters.
  • Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC): The CPPCC is a political advisory body consisting of representatives from various sectors of society, including political parties, organizations, and ethnic groups. Its role is to provide suggestions and proposals on major political and social issues. The CPPCC’s annual session usually takes place alongside the NPC’s session in March.

During the Two Sessions, key topics such as the government’s work report, economic plans, and major policies are discussed and approved. The meetings also serve as a platform for leaders to address the nation and the world, outlining China’s priorities and direction for the coming year. The 2024 “Two Sessions” will commence on 4 March 2024. This paper tries to deduce the probable outcomes of the events. For the sake of clear understanding, the paper is divided into two parts. The first part discusses potential policy declarations, and the second focuses on political outcomes.

Policy

 Premier Li Qiang will deliver the Government Work Report (GWR) at China’s Two Sessions (2024). As the head of the State Council, Premier Li is responsible for outlining the government’s work priorities and key policy initiatives for the coming year. The Government Work Report is a significant document that provides insights into China’s economic, social, and political agenda and is closely watched by both domestic and international observers. Some probable outcomes are as follows:

  • Economic Strategy: China is likely to continue its focus on achieving stable and sustainable economic growth while also addressing challenges such as technological innovation, environmental protection, and income inequality. The government may emphasize policies that support domestic consumption, boost investment in key industries, and promote economic restructuring. The annual Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) held on 12 December 2024 will have some bearing on Li’s policy announcements. During the CEWC, Xi Jinping, in his speech, asked the Party to shift its focus towards growth but also remain committed to his strategy of “high-quality development’ (State Council, 2023). Keeping in line with Xi’s directions, Li is expected to introduce some moderate fiscal stimulus. The fiscal stimulus will be good news for private enterprises, especially those engaged in Research and Development, as they play an integral part in Xi’s “high-quality development” initiative.

Li may also announce some measures to boost consumption through equipment renewal and trade-in of consumer goods. This can be done by lowering logistics costs and giving coupons to households to upgrade their vehicles, electronics, and household appliances. This will be in line with Xi’s instructions at the annual meeting of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission on 23 February 2024 (Xinhua, 2024).

  • Growth Target: The growth target set at the Two Sessions is a crucial indicator of the government’s economic priorities. China has shifted from setting specific numerical targets to more flexible and qualitative goals in recent years. However, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic uncertainties, the government may still set a modest growth target to ensure economic stability. China is way past its period of high growth, and except for an uptick in 2021, there has been a steady decline in China’s growth in China’s economy since 2012. Even for 2024, the IMF has

 

Note: Graph constructed by extrapolating data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

predicted that China’s economy will grow at 4.6% (IMF, 2024). Li is also slated to announce realistic economic growth goals and will probably put the growth goal somewhere near 5 %. The Local “Two Sessions” held by the provincial governments in January and February have kept their GDP growth rates near 5, except for Hainan and Xizang, which have set their targets at 8% (Xinhua, 2024).

Political

        The “Two Session” is the only event of the Party where the General Secretary is not in the limelight instead, it is shared by the Premier, NPC chairman and CPPCC chairman. However, due to Xi’s complete domination over the Party and its various arms, Xi’s remarks to the NPC provincial delegations and CPPCC sectoral groups are expected to set the stage for the “Two Sessions”. During the Two Sessions, Xi Jinping can be expected to deliver critical messages. These messages are likely to reflect China’s current priorities and challenges. Here are some probable political messages he may convey:

  • Stability and Unity: Xi Jinping will likely emphasize the importance of maintaining political stability and national unity, particularly in the face of internal and external challenges. This could include issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and territorial disputes.
  • Economic Development: Xi may highlight China’s achievements and outline sustainable economic growth strategies. This could include measures to stimulate domestic consumption, promote technological innovation, and address income inequality.
  • Social Welfare and Development: Xi may discuss efforts to improve social welfare, healthcare, education, and poverty alleviation. He may also address issues related to urban-rural disparities and regional development.
  • Environmental Protection and Climate Change: Given China’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality, Xi may reaffirm China’s efforts to tackle environmental challenges and promote green development.

Overall, Xi Jinping’s remarks will likely reflect China’s vision for its future development and its role in the world. His speech will be closely watched for insights into China’s policy direction and priorities in the coming year.

Conclusion

          In conclusion, China’s 2024 “Two Sessions” are poised to be significant events that will set the tone for the country’s political, economic, and social agenda in the coming year. As this paper outlines, the meetings will cover critical topics such as the government’s work report, economic plans, and significant policies. Additionally, the sessions will provide a platform for leaders to address the nation and the world, outlining China’s priorities and direction.

Regarding policy declarations, the paper has highlighted potential focus areas, including economic strategies, growth targets, technological innovation, and environmental protection. These declarations are expected to reflect China’s efforts to maintain stable economic growth, promote sustainable development, and address pressing challenges.

On the political front, the paper has discussed possible outcomes related to leadership priorities, policy direction, and global engagement. These outcomes will offer insights into China’s vision for its future development and its role in the world.

Overall, the 2024 “Two Sessions” will provide valuable insights into China’s policy direction and priorities for the coming year. The outcomes of these sessions will have far-reaching implications for China’s domestic development and its global interactions, making them events of significant importance and interest.

References

IMF. (2024, February 3). People’s Republic of China and the IMF. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/CHN

State Council. (2023, December 12). China holds Central Economic Work Conference to plan for 2024. The State Council of People’s Republic of China. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://english.www.gov.cn/news/202312/12/content_WS657860aec6d0868f4e8e21c2.html

Xinhua. (2024a, January 27). Xinhua Commentary: China’s local “two sessions” convey confidence in 2024 economy. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://english.news.cn/20240127/a3ddca80727c4a0f9e9c81296d04e089/c.html

Xinhua. (2024b, February 24). Xi stresses promoting equipment renewal, trade-in of consumer goods, lowering logistics costs. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://english.news.cn/20240224/c98dbc5cdb194ceabe568defd3d862a9/c.html