The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
ReportSouth Asia

Two sessions: Can a rubberstamp parliament help China’s economy?

The Chinese government is under massive pressure to come up with solutions for its troubled economy. So people will be watching the National People’s Congress to see what’s on offer when it starts on Tuesday. Nearly 3,000 NPC delegates gather annually, for just over a week, inside Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People to pass laws, approve personnel changes and delegate the operation of government to smaller groups which meet throughout the year. It is, for the most part, a political performance which rubberstamps decisions already made behind closed doors. But given that the messages delivered have been thought through by those in power, analysts will be looking out for any change in the official Party line and what it might mean for China and the world. For example, a certain new phrase might signal a change in industrial policy or a potential new law governing investment rules. Crucially, the lens through which to view all of this is that there is nothing more important to the Communist Party than ensuring the longevity of its rule in China. For the current leader, Xi Jinping, it is absolutely paramount in virtually all aspects of life. This has not seemed like much of a struggle in recent decades, as business boomed and living standards improved for most, year after year.But now Asia’s engine of growth is locked in a real estate crisis which has dissolved the life savings of many families who paid for flats which were never delivered; it has armies of university graduates who can’t find good jobs and it is burdened by huge amounts of local government debt, which has robbed policymakers of the ability to inject funds into infrastructure in the same way they used to be able to, whenever times were tough. It had been the case that a new road project, or a series of bridges, could soak up a lot of unemployment, unused steel and excess concrete capacity. But this is a period of much more uncertainty. “This year’s NPC will be held at a time of unusual ferment and volatility, particularly over economic policy,” says Richard McGregor, author of The Party, which examines China’s structures of government. He told the BBC that there are “rumours swirling about the government looking for a large statement of some kind to restore confidence and lift growth. There is widespread unhappiness about the state of the economy, and in turn about the direction Xi Jinping has set for the country”. In the past, when enormous changes generated great concern – like the flooding of entire historic areas to make way for the Three Gorges Dam project – there have been protest votes registered at the NPC.But it would take an exceptionally brave Party representative to try that under Xi Jinping.Mr McGregor said he doesn’t expect denunciations of leadership during this Congress, as “all of the delegates have learnt to stay very much on message”. However, he added that “even critical murmurs will be significant”. Professor Ann Lee from New York University said the session could see legislation providing more support to the private sector.BCC

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.