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China is getting ready for a big annual assembly to outline a progress technique

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Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the National Day Reception in Beijing on September 30, 2020 on the eve of the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Thomas Peter | Reuters

BEIJING – The Chinese government will open an annual parliamentary session this week to approve the national priorities for 2021.

The meeting of delegates, known as the “Two Sessions,” oversaw changes such as President Xi Jinping’s removal of term limits in 2018 and the proposal for a new Hong Kong security law last year.

The otherwise generally symbolic meeting is of particular importance this year as it marks the beginning of China’s five-year plan – the 14th in the country’s history – and the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party.

The authorities are expected to provide details on issues ranging from employment objectives to managing the Hong Kong semi-autonomous region.

Such comments will come as Beijing attempts to show progress on the development promises made to the 1.4 billion-inhabitant country and build China’s competitiveness in a world shocked by the coronavirus pandemic and increasingly vigilant about the rise of the Asian giant.

No specific GDP target expected

The “Two Sessions” parliamentary session is due to begin on Thursday with the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body. The National People’s Congress legislature is expected to open its annual meeting on Friday.

Typically, the government publishes its economic labor report, a document that sets out GDP, employment, inflation and other growth targets.

Most economists don’t expect the authorities to release a GDP target this year, having rarely decided not to at last year’s parliamentary session, which was delayed by about two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Li-Gang Liu, chief executive officer and chief economist of China at Citi Research, said in a note that if the report directly or indirectly sets a GDP target, the figure could be above 7%. This is in line with the growth targets announced by various Chinese provinces and the commitment to double GDP compared to 2010, Liu said.

On monetary policy, although the authorities have insisted that they will not abruptly reverse economic policy, “we expect China’s monetary conditions to visibly tighten this year,” Liu added.

China’s economy grew 2.3% last year despite the shock of the coronavirus pandemic as authorities rushed to control the spread of the virus domestically and assist businesses with tax cuts and cheaper loans. According to official figures, this GDP growth followed an expansion of 6.0% in 2019.

In terms of employment, economists broadly believe that China will create more than 10 million new urban jobs this year, up from 9 million last year.

A plan for the next five years

The parliamentary session will also share and approve details of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The development strategy for the world’s second largest economy is based on historic trade deals with neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, while the United States, which increasingly sees China as a competitor, faces greater pressure.

The plan’s focus on “increasing domestic demand, improving the supply chain, self-sufficiency with technology and further opening up domestic markets are the most important tools to hedge against external uncertainties,” Bruce Pang, director of macro and strategic research at China Renaissance, said in a report .

In addition to the details of how China might address national security issues related to technology and energy, authorities are expected to come up with defense spending plans in 2021.

Details of how Beijing plans to strengthen control over Hong Kong could also emerge from this year’s parliamentary session.

Late last month, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau State Affairs Bureau and vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – the political advisory body meeting during “Two Sessions” – released a speech on how Hong Kong’s electoral system should be changed that only supporters of the central government monitor the semi-autonomous region.

The parliamentary session is expected to last around ten days and will include press conferences with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

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Katherine Clark