The National People’s Congress, the world’s largest legislature, opened on Sunday. Speeches and political policies set a tone for the upcoming Communist Party Congress, where there is a possibility of reshuffling positions to extend President Xi Jinping’s stay in power.
Chinese officials set a lower economic growth target, focusing on its optimistic terms, announced the slowest rise in military budget since 2010, and pledged to speed up efforts to make the country’s skies blue again.
At the opening of the session, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang credited the achievements in the past year to the leadership of the Party Central Committee, mentioning Xi Jinping as its “core.”
Xi was granted “core leader” status by the Party. Aside from this, he holds other titles including Communist Party Head and Commander-in-Chief.
Economic growth for 2017 is projected at around 6.5 percent, just under 2016’s target of 6.5 percent to 7 percent. Though the economy was at its weakest in the past 25 years at 6.7 percent, China’s is still one of the fastest growing in the world.
According to Li, this year’s target is realistic. He said, “An important reason for stressing the need to maintain stable growth is to ensure employment and improve people’s lives.”
The National People’s Congress has set a calming tone for the upcoming Communist Party Congress, which happens every five years. In the Party congress, five of the seven top leaders may step down.
There are speculations that Xi might use reshuffling to extend his stay on power when his term ends in 2022. In the same year will be the centennial of the Communist Party’s founding. The possibility of extending his term could not be opened this fall as Xi keeps Wang Qishan, the anti-corruption chief.
Though Xi did not speak in the opening sessions, he reiterated the message of economic globalization to a Sunday panel.
“The door of China’s opening up will not close,” he said, contradicting Trump’s isolationist agenda.
In an analysis, the Xinhua News Agency said that “Xi’s speeches and policy initiatives at the ‘two sessions’ will send important signals about how China will march toward what Xi called the ‘great dream of revitalizing the Chinese nation.”
As the National People's Congress opened, change and stability can both be expected at the upcoming Communist Party Congress.