- 13 Mar 2023 - 05:05(05:05 GMT)
‘Xi Jinping politics is very much about one-man politics’: Analyst
Reactions to this morning’s speech are coming in.
Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, told Al Jazeera security is key for Xi.
“Security is the most important thing in terms of party politics. His [Xi] people can safeguard his position and then he can have many, many terms, even a lifelong term.
“Xi Jinping’s politics is very much about one-man politics. [H]e wants people to think that he could protect China. So in many of his documents or speeches, he is always mentioning that China is actually now surrounded by the hostile United States and also its Western allies, so they need to fight very, very hard for China.”
- 13 Mar 2023 - 04:44(04:44 GMT)
New China officials notable for loyalty to Xi: Analysts
This year’s NPC backed the appointment of a slew of new officials loyal to Xi.
They include not only the new premier but vice premiers, members of the State Council and other senior officials.
“Greater Party control over the government apparatus means that Xi will be able to bring the state even more under his personal control and ensure maximum conformity with his ideology and policy aims,” Connor Swank, an analyst at the Center for Advanced China Research, told Al Jazeera.
You can find out more about the new appointees here.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 04:30(04:30 GMT)
Li accuses US of ‘encirclement and suppression’
Premier Li Qiang was inevitably asked about relations with the United States during the press conference.
After prefacing his comments by saying it was an issue that had already been discussed by Foreign Minister Qin Gang and that he did not want to go into details, he then seemed to have rather a lot to say.
He first noted that Xi and US President Joe Biden had reached a “consensus” during their meeting last November and that needed to be transformed into “actual policies and concrete actions”.
But as he called for more cooperation, he also criticised the US.
“China and the United States should cooperate, and must cooperate. When China and the US work together, there is much we can achieve,” Li said, adding: “Encirclement and suppression are not advantageous for anyone.”
At the November meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, the two leaders agreed to cooperate on global challenges and on the need to improve strained relations.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 04:02(04:02 GMT)
China’s parliament approves changes to speed up ’emergency’ laws
Among the final proposals passed on Monday, the parliament approved changes to a law that would allow it to pass emergency legislation more quickly.
The amendment to the Legislation Law, which governs how legislation is enacted, gives the highest body of the national parliament, the roughly 170-member National People’s Congress Standing Committee, special powers to pass laws after just one review session.
It is an “important measure” to “further improve the quality and efficiency of legislation”, and an “inevitable requirement for strengthening the [ruling Communist] party’s overall leadership over legislative work”, the Reuters news agency reported, citing readouts from delegates’ meetings published during the gathering.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 03:51(03:51 GMT)
China and Taiwan share ‘unbreakable bond of blood’
Li was asked about the relationship between China and Taiwan.
He stressed that the two were “one and the same family” and shared an “unbreakable bond of blood and friendship”.
As such, he said he wanted to encourage more people from Taiwan to travel to China and live in China.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 03:34(03:34 GMT)
‘Completely right’: Li defends China’s COVID-19 strategy
China’s premier has given a spirited defence of the country’s zero-COVID strategy, which was abruptly abandoned at the end of last year.
Li told reporters that China had recorded a “major and decisive victory” in its battle against the disease and insisted the government had “always put people and their lives above everything else”.
The policy adopted was changed in response to conditions, he added, and was “completely right” and “highly effective”.
It is worth remembering that Li was the party boss in Shanghai during that city’s harsh lockdown when some of its 26 million residents complained they were suddenly stuck at home without enough food to see them through a prolonged lockdown.
Al Jazeera’s Erin Hale spoke to some of them in April last year.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 03:25(03:25 GMT)
Li addresses China’s historic population decline
Li has been asked about China’s population decline and what that might mean for its economy.
He noted that 15 million people were joining the workforce each year and that China’s abundant human resources were a “notable strength”.
He also remarked that some 240 million people had education at higher levels.
“China’s demographic dividend has not disappeared and our talent dividend is growing,” he said.
In January, China announced that its population dropped by 850,000 in 2022 — the first decline since the last year of the Great Famine in 1961.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 03:13(03:13 GMT)
Li warns will not be easy for China to achieve 5% growth forecast
Li has told reporters that while China’s economy has shown signs of stabilising over the past two months, the country faces many difficulties.
That means it will be a challenge for China to achieve its 2023 growth target.
“I’m afraid that reaching our growth target of around five percent will be no easy task, and will require that we redouble our efforts,” he said.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 03:03(03:03 GMT)
Li ‘unswervingly’ backs reform and opening up in first media conference
New premier Li Qiang has begun his first-ever press conference, taking questions from foreign and domestic reporters based in Beijing.
He has reiterated many of the points made by Xi in his closing speech at the NPC, stressing the need for China to enhance its scientific and technological innovation capabilities and focus on high-quality development.
The country will “unswervingly deepen reform and opening up,” Li said.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 02:58(02:58 GMT)
Xi: ‘Security is the bedrock of development’
A bit more on Xi Jinping’s closing speech.
The 69-year-old thanked the delegates for giving him a third term and promised to “take the needs of the country as my mission, and the interests of the people as my yardstick”, according to the AFP news agency.
“Security is the bedrock of development, while stability is a prerequisite for prosperity.
“We must fully promote the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces, and build the people’s armed forces into a Great Wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
“The trust of the people is the greatest driving force pushing me forward, and also a heavy responsibility on my shoulders,” he said.
“The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process.”
- 13 Mar 2023 - 02:45(02:45 GMT)
Photos: Pomp and ceremony as China’s parliament ends its annual session
We are waiting for Li Qiang to start his first press conference as China’s new premier.
In the meantime, here are some pictures from this morning’s closing session.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 02:21(02:21 GMT)
NPC Agenda: GDP forecast of ‘around 5 percent’
The NPC usually sits for no more than two weeks each year so delegates have a lot to get through.
This year’s event began with outgoing premier Li Keqiang presenting delegates with the “Government Work Report”, which sets economic and policy goals for the year ahead and includes a gross domestic product (GDP) forecast.
This year’s target was set at “around 5 percent” compared with just 3 percent last year.
That is pretty low for an economy that pre-pandemic regularly expanded in double digits.
While acknowledging China’s “vast potential and momentum for further growth,” Li told the delegates that there were increased “uncertainties in the external environment,” and also referenced the challenging political outlook amid Beijing’s deteriorating relationship with the United States, which he characterised as “external attempts to suppress and contain China”.
If you want to know more about why its prediction for 2023 growth was so modest, Al Jazeera’s Asia business editor John Power compiled this explainer.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 02:16(02:16 GMT)
What is the National People’s Congress?
The 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) has just wrapped up in Beijing.
Here’s a little more about the event.
It started sitting on March 5 in the cavernous Great Hall of the People.
It is China’s national legislature and – officially – the “highest organ of State power” with the ability to amend the constitution. In reality, it is more of a rubber stamp, meeting once a year to approve policy that has already been decided by senior officials within the ruling Communist Party.
Some 2,977 delegates travelled to Beijing for this year’s event, including 790 women. Some 442 were from China’s ethnic minority groups.
According to the NPC Observer, an online outlet that tracks the parliament’s activities, the full NPC has never voted down a single item on its agenda.
The vote on Friday that gave Xi his third term was unanimous – 2,952 votes for and none against.
In March 2018, when the parliament voted on abolishing presidential term limits, the vote was 2,958 for and two against.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 02:10(02:10 GMT)
Xi says must avoid Taiwan ‘split’, highlights ‘one country, two systems’
The status of Taiwan is a key issue for China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own.
Naturally, it was also part of Xi’s speech with the president stressing that China would oppose any moves towards independence in the democratic island, and promote the “one country, two systems” concept and the need for the “reunification of the motherland”.
After the crackdown in Hong Kong and the imposition of the national security law, there is some scepticism about “one country, two systems” in Taiwan, but Xi said that China wanted to actively promote the “peaceful development” of cross-strait relations.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 01:52(01:52 GMT)
NPC Agenda: Xi gets third term, Li replaces Li as premier
China usually tweaks its political leadership in five-year cycles so this year’s NPC was being closely watched for changes at the top echelons of power.
On Friday, Xi was confirmed as president for a historic third term.
The next day, his loyal aide Li Qiang got the nod as the country’s new premier replacing the outgoing Li Keqiang, who had risen through the ranks of the Communist Youth League and was seen as close to former President Hu Jintao.
The new premier’s ties with Xi go back a long way — to their time in the early 2000s when Li was the future president’s chief of staff in northeastern Zhejiang.
As the number two in Chinese politics, it will fall to Li, 63, to help the world’s second-biggest economy recover from the effect of three years of China’s zero-COVID strategy.
In his early days, Li Qiang acquired a reputation as a reform-minded official keen to work with technology firms and as Shanghai party boss, famously invited Tesla to set up in the city.
More recently, however, he has become notorious as the man who oversaw Shanghai’s harsh COVID-19 lockdown, which some residents say left them confined to their homes without enough food or medical supplies.
Li will be holding his first press conference after the closing session concludes.
- 13 Mar 2023 - 01:49(01:49 GMT)
Xi tells delegates development and security must be better coordinated
Xi has begun his final speech to this year’s NPC.
So far, he has talked about the need for China to promote “greater self-reliance” both through the economy and the military.
Development and security need to be better coordinated, he says.
And he stresses the need for military modernisation so that it can properly “safeguard state sovereignty”.
China’s NPC updates: Xi addresses parliament’s closing session
This blog is now closed. Thank you for joining us.
These were the updates for the final day of China’s annual parliamentary meeting, known as the National People’s Congress.
- The event, which brought together nearly 3,000 delegates from across China, saw the election of President Xi Jinping for an unprecedented third term, the appointment of a new premier — Li Qiang — and a host of other senior functionaries.
- In his closing speech, Xi stressed the importance of security for China’s economic development and reiterated that Taiwan was part of China.
- The new premier Li Qiang later spoke to the media for the first time in the traditional post-NPC press conference.
- He talked about the challenge facing China in reaching its 5 percent growth target, accusing the United States of encircling and suppressing the country.
- Li, who was the party boss overseeing the controversial lockdown in Shanghai, also said that zero-COVID had ensured China secured a “major and decisive victory” over the disease.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies