By Zamir AWAN /Oriental Review/ – The “Two Sessions” are critical in the Chinese system of governance, where the state submits the annual performance reports of the past year and plans targets & policies for the next year. It is widely attended by representatives of all political parties, regions, and technocrats. It is the highest platform for deliberations and discussion for various issues and through consultations-based consensus are built. Usually, the “Two Sessions held in February-March, just after the Chinese New Year, every year. But due to the outbreak of COVID-19, this year, the “Two Sessions” were delayed. The world is keeping follow-up on the two sessions and eager to know the outcomes.
China’s national legislature already started its annual session in Beijing. President Xi Jin-Ping and other Chinese leaders attended the opening meeting of the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, Political Consultative Conference, and China’s top political advisory body, held at the Great Hall of the People. Attendees at the meeting paid a silent tribute to martyrs who died fighting COVID-19 and compatriots who lost their lives in the epidemic. After the mourning, Premier Li Keqiang delivered a government work report on behalf of the State Council to the legislature for deliberation.
Premier Li Ke-Qiang, setting priorities for the year 2020, pointed out that winning the battle against poverty and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be a significant task for this year. Since reforms introduced in 1978, China lifted around 750 million people from poverty, which is unprecedented in history in any part of the world. Based on Chinese experience, I believe China will succeed in eliminating poverty within the current year. China has provided special incentives and attractive policies in the relatively backward area and extended tax relief and other fiscal incentives to eradicate poverty and establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The country will ensure the elimination of poverty among all rural residents living below the current poverty line and in all poor counties. The state will further cut tax and fees for enterprises to reduce corporate burden by over 2.5 trillion yuan while stepping up financial support for stable business operations.
No specific economic growth target for 2020 was announced because the country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the considerable uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment. For almost four decades, China has precedent rapid growth under a conducive international context, but the landscape of geopolitics ahead is not so smooth. China expects, at present, and for some time to come, some risks and challenges like never before. But confident that a unique political and institutional strength, a strong economic foundation, enormous market potential, and hundreds of millions of intelligent and hardworking people will overcome all challenges. China plans to set its fiscal deficit above 3.6 percent of GDP, resulting in a deficit rise of 1 trillion yuan (about 141 billion U.S. dollars) from last year. It will also issue 1 trillion yuan of government bonds for COVID-19 control.
China will focus on maintaining security in the six areas to ensure stability on the six fronts. By doing so, China will be able to keep the fundamentals of the economy stable. Maintaining security will deliver the confidence needed to pursue progress, thus laying a solid foundation for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The six fronts refer to employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations. The six areas related to job security, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food, and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments. China will give priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards, with the report unveiling specific targets, policies, and measures, and aims to add over 9 million new urban jobs in 2020 and keep the surveyed urban unemployment rate at around 6 percent.
China may face challenges head-on, boost confidence in development, create a strong impetus for growth, and preserve and make the most of this critical period of strategic opportunity for development. Still, China will, without doubt, be able to make it through this challenging time, as the horizons for China’s growth are full of promise. China will redouble its efforts to minimize the losses resulting from COVID-19, and keep its policies forceful and sustainable.
The plans and strategies set in these two sessions are implemented in true spirit to achieve the pre-planned outcomes. Based on experience, I am confident that the goals set will be realistic and achievable.