China posts cautious growth target as parliament opens

China posts cautious growth target as parliament opens

The annual parliamentary session must offer a third presidential term to Xi Jinping. JADE GAO / AFP

Beijing is aiming for economic growth of “around 5%” in 2023, compared to 3% in 2022.

China unveiled on Sunday a growth target of “about 5%for 2023, at the opening of its annual parliamentary session, which should offer an unprecedented third presidential term to Xi Jinping. After three years of slowdown due to anti-Covid restrictions, “China’s economy is enjoying a solid recovery“, underlined the report of the outgoing Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, presented to nearly 3,000 deputies of the People’s National Assembly (ANP). It is, however, one of the weakest targets in decades.

In 2022, China’s GDP had grown by just 3%, one of the weakest increases in 40 years, against the backdrop of an economic slowdown, the Covid-19 epidemic, confinements and a crisis in real estate. “China’s economic development has come up against multiple unexpected factors both at home and abroad, such as the epidemicLi Keqiang acknowledged on Sunday. But “under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee, we have effectively coordinated epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development“, he added.

“Zero Covid” policy

The objective for 2023 is unveiled at the opening of a nine-day parliamentary session which will decide on the renewal, for five years, of Xi Jinping as head of state as president. He had already been confirmed as Party leader in October. As every year, few surprises are expected from this carefully orchestrated event, during which thousands of politicians from different provinces travel to Beijing to vote almost unopposed for texts already pre-approved by the Chinese Communist Party ( CCP) in power.

But the 69-year-old leader has since encountered some pitfalls, with demonstrations at the end of November against his policy “zero covid» then a wave of deaths resulting from the abandonment of this decried health strategy. These sensitive topics will probably not be discussed during this parliamentary session where Li Qiang, a close friend of Xi Jinping and former head of the CCP in Shanghai, should also be appointed as the new Prime Minister.

Security has been tightened in Beijing in recent days in anticipation of the event, with checks at the entrance to the capital and security guards present at the edge of the streets as well as near bridges. Despite the Covid zero episode which tarnished his image, Xi Jinping maintains a position “strong enoughat the top of the Party, making it virtually untouchable, observes Alfred Muluan Wu, a professor at the National University of Singapore.

Complex security challenges

For Steve Tsang, of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, Xi Jinping has the opportunity during this parliamentary session to praise his management of popular discontent at the end of November. “He acted decisively when, during the protests, there were calls for him and the CCP to leave. He muffled them and deleted the patternof anger, he told AFP. SO “he can present himself as a leader, rather than someone who is pushed to react“, he underlines.

The defense budget will also be announced by the government on Sunday. Its rise is beyond doubt, but the level of this growth will be scrutinized by the countries of the region and the United States. “Increased defense spending is necessary to meet complex security challenges, it is also necessary (for China) to fulfill its obligations as a great country“, justified Saturday at a press conference Wang Chao, the spokesman of the ANP.

MEPs will also discuss several economic and social issues, ranging from strengthening sex education in schools to boosting the birth rate, through online harassment.

Source link

Leave a Reply