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Published: 00:16, March 07, 2023 | Updated: 09:29, March 07, 2023
Two sessions lay foundation for new national milestones
By Mervyn Cheung
Published:00:16, March 07, 2023 Updated:09:29, March 07, 2023 By Mervyn Cheung

China has marched vigorously into its annual political season, which is marked by the convening of the respective annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), collectively known as the two sessions.

In presenting his work report in the CPPCC’s opening session, Wang Yang, CPPCC National Committee chairman, rightly depicted the past five years as “extraordinary”, during which the country faced a “complex international scene and various challenges”. Yet, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, the country managed to fulfill the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society.

Deemed to be carrying particular importance, this year’s two sessions are set to complete a leadership transition. Apart from welcoming the impactful leadership changes for the State organs, the two sessions’ program is complicated by exacerbating global geopolitics cooked up by the United States over Ukraine’s potential NATO membership, as well as the necessity to reboot the national economy and to return to normalcy after the pandemic. In addition, a specific focus on long-term stability and technological self-reliance is also likely to be taken into account.

Amid the bewildering geopolitics ramped up incessantly by the US and the mounting COVID-19-induced economic downturn pressure around the globe, the current administration, guided by President Xi’s governing philosophy, has been able to score significant achievements in poverty alleviation, rural revitalization, social security expansion, etc. With a good grasp of the inseparable bond between social stability and economic growth on one hand and food security on the other, the central authorities have wisely set their close sights on advancing agricultural modernization by introducing “cutting-edge” agricultural technologies.

Under the powerful rural revitalization initiative in the few years from 2017, digital agriculture penetration went up from 6.5 percent to 9.7 percent, thereby pushing up grain output to over 650 billion kilograms for eight consecutive years. This in turn has led to a rise of 28.9 percent in rural residents’ disposable income. 

On enhancing social security, the central authorities have intensified efforts in increasing employment and improving social security. Laying emphasis on employment as the “first strategy”, the country aims to create 12 million new urban jobs this year, which exceeds last year’s target of 11 million, and to maintain the surveyed unemployment rate at around 5.5 percent, unchanged from last year. Under this positive intervention, college graduates, migrant workers and unemployed people are among the key focus groups designated for receiving assistance. Meanwhile, China’s basic old-age insurance has covered 1.05 billion people.

World Trade Organization reports indicate that global merchandise trade growth remains weak in the first quarter. Countries in Europe and the US are still being hit by high inflation rates.

Against this unsettled economic background in the West, Premier Li Keqiang proposed a GDP growth target of around 5 percent for the country this year, a magnitude that is widely interpreted as “realistic”, and with space for further expansion, taking into account the signs of economic recovery after COVID-19 receded. The Caixin Services Purchasing Managers Index, for instance, shows activities accelerating in February, striking a six-month high of 55.0, compared with 46.7 last November and 52.9 in January. The services sector is reported to be adding workers and arresting the three-month contraction in employment index. On Feb 24, the People’s Bank of China said that inflation is “controlled well” on the mainland, stressing that last year the country “was able to maintain stable commodity prices”, stabilizing expectations and serving long-term economic development well. Overall, the central bank is “optimistic” about China’s long-term economic growth. These projections, when they materialize, will further consolidate shared-prosperity governance since people across the nation will be able to enjoy the fruits of the economic recovery.

Debuting from this solid social and economic background for the new journey to high-quality development and shared prosperity as to be charted, discussed, refined and approved in the two sessions, there is full faith and optimism throughout the country in the government transcending all limits in its march to building a modern socialist nation. With both the successful realization of common prosperity across the country and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s authorities driving wholeheartedly to integrate the city’s own development into national development, residents of all ages here can look forward to peace, stability, prosperity and thus improved living standards in the years ahead.

In his work report, Premier Li spelled out clearly that “new progress” had been made on Hong Kong and Macao since the central authorities have effectively exercised comprehensive jurisdiction over the two SARs. He further stressed the imperative need to uphold “one country, two systems” and work for the two SARs’ continuing economic development, which is the only viable way of guaranteeing the two cities’ prosperity and their residents’ decent livelihoods.

This strategy for Hong Kong will work in line with President Xi’s vision for promoting high-quality development while prioritizing stability, which has become the primary task for the country. The city has gone astray for years in political terms, and pursuing progress under the stable and supporting umbrella of the motherland is the only recourse to our survival and thriving. As Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said after returning from the opening session of the NPC, President Xi has expressed every concern for the well-being of the SAR’s residents.

In all the relevant vital areas, the SARs’ delegates and deputies to the two sessions will have a valuable role to play. As Wang Yang put it in his opening address, “In order to build up the capability of people who love the country, love Hong Kong and Macao, we also encourage the members from the HKSAR and also Macao SAR to make their voices heard.”

The author is a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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