The session held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing was attended by 2,980 delegates representing all regions and ethnicities in the country, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Kiqiang, prominent members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
At the opening session of the 1st General Assembly of the 14th term of the Congress, Prime Minister Li, whose term of office will expire in this Congress, presented the last annual work report and budget draft of the government under his presidency to the parliament.
Li. He reported that they aim for the Chinese economy to grow “around 5 percent” in 2023. Noting that they will try to keep the ratio of budget deficit to gross domestic product around 3 percent, Li stated that they aim to create 12 million new jobs in cities by keeping unemployment around 5.5 percent.
The government could not meet its growth target of “around 5.5 percent” in 2022, and the annual growth remained at 3 percent. The pressures of the COVID-19 restrictions on the economy, the Russia-Ukraine War and the worsening of the global economic situation were effective in the slowdown in growth.
Emphasizing that the COVID-19 epidemic has caused serious difficulties in the last 3 years, Li stated that the victory against the epidemic has been won, and after the control restrictions are loosened, they will focus on protecting the elderly, children and vulnerable groups with chronic diseases, and preventing severe diseases.
In his speech, Li did not refer to the strict prevention control measures called the “zero case” strategy, but noted that the fight against the epidemic should be scientifically based and targeted, the development of new drugs and the updating of vaccines should be encouraged.
With the abrupt lifting of the epidemic control measures that China has implemented since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, requiring massive shutdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions, in December 2022, cases increased rapidly in the country, and the country faced the largest mass spread ever seen.
It is estimated that at least 1 billion people, 80% of the country’s population of 1.4 billion, have been infected in the 3 months that have passed.
In his speech on Taiwan, where China is in a conflict of sovereignty, Li emphasized that they will oppose separatism and foreign intervention.
Li stated that the CCP’s general policy for the solution of the Taiwan problem in the new period should be followed and the principle of “one China” should be adhered to.
Underlining that China will take decisive steps against attempts to “Taiwan’s independence” and will defend reunification, Li said, “We should advance economic and cultural relations and cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and develop systems and policies that will contribute to the welfare of our Taiwanese citizens.” said.
Tensions related to the Taiwan issue have escalated after the visit of former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August 2022. Seeing Taiwan as a part of its territory, Beijing reacted to the visit, conducted military exercises around the island after the visit, increased Taiwan Strait flights and ship patrols.
Prime Minister Li announced that defense spending will increase by 7.2 percent to 1.55 trillion yuan (approximately $220 billion) in 2023. Although the defense budget increased in yuan terms compared to last year, it decreased by approximately 10 billion dollars in dollar terms due to the depreciation of the national currency.
Pointing out that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army needs to intensify military training and preparation on all fronts in order to increase its combat capacity, Li emphasized that significant progress has been made in national defense and military modernization in the last 5 years.
Li said that the Chinese army has gained the capacity to carry out its operations in a “solid and flexible manner”, fulfilling its duties for the protection of borders, the assurance of sovereignty rights in the seas, the fight against terrorism and the maintenance of stability.
Stating that the army will continue to protect China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, Li said, “Military operations, capacity building and combat readiness are coordinated to ensure the fulfillment of basic tasks. We must accelerate the implementation of major defense-related projects.” used the phrases.
Underlining that China should adhere to an “independent” and “peaceful” foreign policy, Li said, “We must maintain the strategy of opening up and cooperate with other countries based on friendship and mutual benefit. We must continue to work to preserve world peace, contribute to global development, and defend international order. ” made its assessment.
Li noted that China will continue to advocate for the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative proposals, and to explain them to the international community.
On the anniversary of the start of the Russia-Ukraine War, China published a 12-item statement of attitude towards the political solution of the crisis. In the document, it was emphasized that the sovereignty of countries should be respected, legitimate security concerns should be taken into account, unilateral sanctions should be ended and a ceasefire should be achieved by gradually reducing tensions.
The proposals were not accepted by the USA and the European Union, which criticized Beijing for taking a close stance on Russia in the war, as well as by Ukraine.
Congress will reshape state government
The annual plenary meetings of the CUHK shape the country’s annual legislative agenda with the concurrent plenary of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
This year’s Congress is important in that the officials elected to the party’s top management positions at the 20th National Congress of the CCP, which governs the country, in October 2022, will be appointed to high-level government posts.
While it is foreseen that President Xi Jinping will be re-elected for a five-year term and carry his power to a third term at the Congress, it is expected that Li Chiang, who was elected to the Standing Committee at the CCP Congress and rose to the second place in the party protocol, will be replaced by Prime Minister Li Kiqiang, whose term of office will expire.
The members of the State Council, which fulfills the function of the cabinet, will also be determined in the Congress, where new names will be elected as the Speaker of the Assembly and the Deputy Head of State.
The structure of the CUHK
There are 2,980 delegates in the CUHK, also known as China’s parliament. The delegates in question include representatives from the country’s cities, provinces, autonomous regions, and the People’s Liberation Army of China.
While the CUHK meets once a year; Other legislative tasks are handled by the Standing Committee of the CUHK, which meets approximately every 2 months. There are more than 170 delegates on the committee.