BEIJING – On Saturday, the ceremonial parliament of China, which has 3,000 members, will open its annual session when the government faces economic slowdown and international pressure to refuse to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While domestic problems tend to dominate the National People’s Congress, the war in Ukraine underscores the ideological confrontation between the American-led West and the competing worldviews of Beijing and Moscow.
It is expected that any discussion of the conflict will be muted, but with an emphasis on growth stimulation in the world’s second largest economy.
More than 3,000 delegates do little to legislate, the smaller Standing Committee of Congress, which meets year-round.
Rather, the ruling Communist Party is using Congress to announce broad goals in the economy and other issues, including the environment and military spending. This year, it will take place ahead of a key party meeting in November, during which leader Xi Jinping is expected to receive a third five-year term.
This year’s NPC was again reduced to one week from the usual two due to the pandemic. Only a few large meetings are planned, and press conferences will be held by video link.
Analysts will focus on the annual report, which was unveiled at Saturday’s session by Premier Li Keqiang, leader of № 2 and a senior economic official. It is expected to announce an annual growth target of 5% compared to last year’s 8%.
The report is likely to look at China’s response to COVID-19 and may hint at a future direction in the fight against viruses. While China has largely contained the epidemic, there are growing questions about its economic costs and long-term sustainability. a “zero tolerance” approach.
Much of the rest of the week’s session will be occupied with behind-the-scenes discussions among delegates from all provinces and regions of China, as well as the party’s powerful army, the People’s Liberation Army.
The plight of women victims of trafficking is expected to be discussed following the recent high-profile case. the woman was found chained inside a barn in eastern China.
Delegate Jiang Shennan plans to make a proposal to prosecute those who help in human trafficking or obstruct the rescue of a victim of human trafficking, according to the official newspaper People’s Daily.
Another delegate, Zhang Baoyang, suggested investigating the origins of girls whose family origins are unclear in all localities and helping them return home, according to China Youth Daily.
The advisory body to Congress, the China People’s Political Advisory Conference, opens its annual session on Friday and will work concurrently with the legislature.
Over the course of this year’s event is the war in Ukraine, in which China is seen as largely on Russia’s side against a global wave of growing criticism of the invasion.
A major buyer of Russian oil and gas, China is the only major power that has refrained from criticizing Moscow’s invasion. China has also ruled out the involvement of the governments of the United States and Europe in the imposition of financial sanctions against Russia.
Instead, Beijing has backed Russia’s argument that Moscow’s security is threatened by NATO expansion to the east. China abstained when the UN voted in the election emergency meeting on Wednesday demand an immediate end to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing Renmin University, said China should express its position and reservations.
“This concerns the unity of China’s international position, as well as China’s global reputation,” Shi said. “But, unfortunately, no major party is listening to this given the difficult situation.”
The conflict over Ukraine has sparked some comparisons with China’s own claims to sovereignty over the self-governing island republic of Taiwan, though the circumstances are very different.
China’s defense budget, largely focused on possible military action in Taiwan, is another important point that is being closely scrutinized by Congressional observers.
While annual defense spending fell from double-digit figures in 2015 to just 6.8% last year and amounted to $ 210 billion, they rank second in the world after the United States.
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