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6 Mar, 2015

Chinese Leaders’ Ten-Point Projections for the Future of China

Beijing, (People’s Daily Online) March 03, 2015 – The 3rd Session of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee of the People’s Republic of China opened on March 3, 2015 in Beijing, followed by the 3rd Session of the 12th National People’s Congress on March 5.

2015 is a crucial year for deeper all-round reform, the first year of the full rule of law and the last year of the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan”.

“Building a moderately prosperous society; deepening reform; advancing the rule of law and strictly governing the Party.” Chinese President Xi Jinping’s strategic blueprint, distilled into slogans known as the “four comprehensives” brings both new goals and challenges.

Ten expectations for this year’s two sessions:

1. Signal to be sent in crucial year of reform

People’s Daily published a front page article, Let China broaden its path of reform — three treatises on promotion of the “four comprehensives”, in which 2014 is regarded as the first year of deeper all-round reform.

In 2014, reform in China picked up the pace. 80 key tasks determined by the Central leading group were effectively completed. Central authorities also completed a further 108 reform tasks, and a total of 370 new measures were put in place.

The focal points of this years’ two sessions will be how to carry out Xi’s “four comprehensives” strategic blueprint, and deliberations on the draft amendments to the “Legislation Law”.

2. ‘New Normal’ means new economic targets

According to China’s official statisticians, the country’s GDP in 2014reached 63.65 trillion yuan (10.23 trillion U.S. dollars), up 7.4 percent year on year. The rate of growth was the lowest since 1990.

The Economic growth target is released to the public in the annual “Chinese government report” during the two sessions. China’s 29 provinces have lowered their provincial GDP growth targets for 2015. Liaoning, Shanxi and Gansu made the largest cuts of three points. Shanghai has cancelled its specific GDP growth target altogether.

Will the national GDP growth target for 2015 be set at 7%? Or will GDP growth be replaced by a more comprehensive economic indicator?

3. Improve standards of living and quality of life

China abolished the dual-track pension system that favors government employees and discriminates against others in a pension reform plan announced by the State Council on January 14.

China’s government workers were awarded a pay raise in 2015. Increases were announded to to each unit, said Hu Xiaoyi, vice-minister of human resources and social security, on January 19.

The National Development and Reform Commission and 11 other departments jointly issued a document on Feb 4, under which Tongzhou in Beijing and 62 other cities or townships are approved as new national pilot regions for integrated urbanization. In those regions, a deeper level of household registration reform is being carried out.

The State Council has issued provisional regulations on real estate registration, which take effect on March 1, 2015. Will this be an effective way to curb growth of housing price?

4. Premier Li Keqiang’s hard commitment

During the first session of the 12th National People’s Congress meeting in 2013, Li Keqiang pledged in his first press conference as Premier: “Within my tenure, the government will not use the public purse to build new offices, halls, or guest houses for government use. Government employee numbers, spending on official hospitality, overseas trips for official purposes, and purchases of official vehicles will be reduced.”

“We need to ensure that market energies can do anything that is not prohibited by the law, and that government departments must not do anything unless it is mandated by the law.” Following this pledge by Premier Li in his press conference during the second session of the 12th NPC, 219 administrative items were nullified by the State Council or devolved to local government in 2014.

What commitments will Premier Li Keqiang make during this year’s two sessions?

5. Respond to red issues of local concern

The Central Economic Work Conference has publicized the regional economic development roadmap for 2015, prioritizing the development of projects such as the One Belt and One Road, the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, and construction of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. In the two meetings at provincial level which were held earlier this month, the local governments involved prepared positive deployments to match the national strategy.

In the two sessions last year, Hu Chunhua, secretary of Guangdong Provincial Party Committee, committed to support the anti-vice movement in Dongguan Will deputies from Shanxi province respond to the need for a shake-up after the anti-corruption campaign?

6. Success in the campaign against the four undesirable work styles

Xi Jinping is calling for further efforts to implement the “mass line” campaign, with the aim of making government more accessible to the general population, while cleaning up the “four undesirable work styles” — formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. Will this year’s two sessions be pragmatic, thrifty and efficient?

7. Anti-corruption campaign

At least 34 NPC deputies and 9 members of the CPPCC will not show up to this year’s two sessions. As a result of the national anti-graft drive, 27 NPC deputies and 8 members of the CPPCC have been dismissed or forced to resign since last March following investigations for corruption.

Will there be new deputies and members be nominated in this year? Will there be more dismissals?

8. Controversial proposals

Every year, there are some controversial proposals and views on public affairs. Examples from the two sessions of 2014 are “not encouraging rural school students to go to college”, “high housing prices might be a good thing”, “half of land sales should be handed over to the government”, ” the executive salaries of central state-owned companies (more than 400,000 yuan a year) is much lower than their foreign counterparts”…

Such controversial views from members of the CPPCC stir up a heated debate among Chinese netizens. Some question the ability of those concerned to reflect public opinion and their suitability for participation in national politics.

9. Performance of celebrity members of CPPCC

Celebrity members of CPPCC are always in public focus during the two sessions. Star hurdler Xiang’s fourth absence from the session sparked a hot debate in March 2012. During a news conference on March 2, 2014, spokesman Lyu was asked whether some of the celebrity CPPCC members have dual nationalities. At the last CPPCC panel discussion 17 of 48 celebrity members were absent…

This year, will celebrity members put up a better showing?

10. Will there be “You Know What I Mean”

“That’s all I can say right now, and I think you understand what I mean,” said Lyu Xinhua, spokesman for the CPPCC session. And with that, the words “You know what I mean” were on everyone’s lips.

On March 2, 2014, Lyu Xinhua was responding to a question about a former member of the Party’s highest decision-making authority, during a news conference before the opening of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Will there be another “unexpected” hit-phrase in this year’s two sessions?