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China’s Stamp Parliament begins sessions, handing over Xi’s third term

BEIJING — China’s Stamp Parliament begins nine-day sessions on Sunday, with lawmakers set to give Xi Jinping a third term as president, as well as unveil new growth targets and an increase in defense spending.

Analysts say there will be few surprises at the carefully choreographed National People’s Congress, when thousands of politicians are flown in from across China to vote on laws and personnel changes pre-approved by the ruling Communist Party (CCP).

Top of the agenda is the norm-breaking reappointment of Xi as president after he committed another five years as party and military chiefs — the two more significant leadership positions in Chinese politics — at a congress in October.

Since then, the 69-year-old Xi’s leadership has faced unexpected challenges and trials, with mass protests against his zero-Covid policy and its subsequent abandonment, leading to a deadly surge in the coronavirus.

But those troubles will almost certainly be avoided at the conclave in Beijing this week, which will also see a Xi confidant and former Shanghai party leader being unveiled as the new prime minister.

Security in the center of the capital was tighter than usual on the Saturday before the meeting, with squads of guards and armed police stationed along main roads and at intersections and bridges.

– No Challengers –

Xi enjoys a “fairly powerful” position at the top of the party that makes him virtually unassailable, Alfred Muluan Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, told AFP.

Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said Xi now has an opportunity to flaunt his response to the pressure created by last year’s unrest.

“He acted decisively when the protests included calls for him and the CCP to resign. He knocked them out and eliminated the root cause,” he told AFP.

“He can present himself as a frontman instead of being pushed into reaction.”

Also on lawmakers’ cards are China’s slowing economy and an increase in its defense budget, the second largest in the world.

“The increase in defense spending meets the needs of complex security challenges and the need to meet the commitments of a big country,” NPC spokesman Wang Chao told a news conference on Saturday.

Also expected among the first statements is a target for GDP growth in the coming 12 months, announced by outgoing Premier Li Keqiang at Sunday’s opening ceremony in the Great Hall of the People.

An AFP poll of analysts showed economists expect an average growth target of 5.3 percent – one of the party’s lowest in decades.

Last year, the economy grew just 3 percent, one of the weakest times in decades due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns and a real estate crisis.

According to state media reports, delegates to the National People’s Congress — and the concurrent “Political Consultative Conference” (CPPCC), which began on Saturday — will also discuss a range of issues from economic recovery to improved sex education in schools.

The meetings serve as a forum for participants to pitch pet projects, but they have little bearing on broader questions about how China is governed.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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