By S. M. Hali
The National People’s Congress (NPC) is the national legislature of the People’s Republic of China. With over 3,000 delegates, it is elected for a term of five years and is the largest parliamentary body in the world. It holds annual sessions every spring, usually lasting from 10 to 14 days, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The NPC’s sessions are usually timed to occur with the meetings of the National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative (CPPCC), and these annual meetings provide an opportunity for the officers of state to review past policies and present future plans to the nation. Under China’s Constitution, the NPC is structured as a unicameral legislature, with the power to legislate, the power to oversee the operations of the government, and the power to elect the major officers of state. The NPC and the CPPCC are the main deliberative bodies of China, and are often referred to as the Lianghui (Two Assemblies).
The 12th NPC was elected in February 2013 and will be in session from 2013 to 2018. It is scheduled to hold five plenary sessions in this period. The third plenary session i.e. of 2015 commenced on March 3 and will go on for about two weeks. To date, bold measures have been adopted by the Chinese leadership and vibrant reforms have been unveiled. These reforms are aimed at streamlining the administrative process and delegating greater responsibilities to different strata of the government. Since 2013 the endeavour of the Chinese government has been to incorporate reforms aimed at eliminating bureaucratic red tape that have impeded smooth operations. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has announced a policy plan that promotes a shift to an economy driven by consumers and entrepreneurial vigor—acknowledging China’s entrance to an era of slower growth. Presenting the annual government work report, Li announced this year’s economic growth target at 7 percent, 0.4 % lower than last year’s target. He was however, sanguine regarding the ongoing reform to start new development engines. Other economic indices such as consumer price index (CPI), set at 3 percent, and unemployment rate at 4.5 percent are also slightly lower than last year. Predicting the situation in 2015, the Premier admitted that the difficulties China is to face may be “even more formidable” than last year, with downward pressure on the economy building up and deep-seated problems in development surfacing.
Considering the size of China’s economy, gross domestic product (GDP) worth of 63.6 trillion Yuan (10.39 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2014, even the growth of 7 percent will produce an annual increase of more than 800 billion U.S. dollars at current price, larger than the figure produced by a 10-percent growth five years ago.
The Chinese Premier also urged common development of the central and western regions, reiterating that greater efforts shall be made to promote grain production and build key economic zones in the region.
A welcome reform is the fixation of achievable environment targets. In 2015, Chinese government plans to reduce the energy intensity or units of energy per unit of GDP, by 3.1 percent and continue reducing the emission of major pollutants. Intensity of carbon dioxide is also set to drop at least 3.1 percent with other indices like chemical oxygen demand and emissions of ammonia nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. China will also take an active part in the UN development summit and international cooperation on climate change
China’s diplomacy in 2015 will focus on making all around progress in the “Belt and Road” initiatives in which China will further enhance policy communicating with other countries, expand the convergence of the shared interests and explore possible areas of win-win cooperation. The priorities will be promoting connectivity, building overland economic corridors and pillars of maritime cooperation. The Asian giant intends to improve cultural and people-to-people exchanges and speed up talks of free trade areas with relevant countries.
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Special coverage on China's Two Party Sessions by The Daily Mail - People's Daily