First session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC)

4 Mar

On Tuesday March 5th China will open the first session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing. This year welcomes in a newly elected national legislature of 2,987 deputies from across the country as well as the new General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and the Chairman of the Party Central Military Commission, Xi Jingping. With Xi Jingping’s declarations to end corruption and reduce extravagance within governance there have been huge alterations to the event. This year’s event will see the increased use of electronic documents to save more than 2 million Yuan (£213,000) as well as no welcoming ceremony for the NPC deputies or traditional police escort of the deputies and political advisors to the Great Hall where the sessions are held. No performances or gifts will be arranged and buffets will be provided without expensive food or alcohol.

The two sessions, it is hoped, will start the process of tackling the uneven development which has resulted from rapid urbanisation as well as issues over soil pollution, illegal house purchases and child abuse problems. There will also be debates over the creation of new super ministries which could entrench bureaucracy and end corruption. Concerns have been raised however over forecasts of increased military spending in the coming year. A spokeswoman for the legislation defended the increased by stating that the ever enlarging military has helped cement global peace. Critics will have to wait till Tuesday however for the release of the annual budget to ascertain whether their fears are correct.


3 Responses to “First session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC)”

  1. cjf3g11 March 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Drawing on the new ‘super ministries’, reform features will aim to consolidate government agencies with similar functions to reduce administrative overlapping and to promote efficiency. Under the plan certain efforts such as merging the railway ministry with the ministry of transport have been made. However, the consolidation of agencies in energy, cultural and financial sectors have not been included in the draft plan, although they were widely anticipated. Back at the beginning of China’s ‘reform and opening up’ era, merging public ministries were an attempt to streamline bureaucracy. This movement towards a western-style was met with furious opposition so in the last round of proposed reforms of 2008 the only thing leaders finally agreed on was to make the environmental regulator a full-fledged ministry. Fewer, bigger ministries would fit with party pledges to make the economy more productive and keep incomes growing (relating back to the above comment of tackling uneven development as a result of rapid urbanisation). Furthermore officials say that the ‘big-ministry system’ is not just about redefining bureaucratic boundaries but is an important part of political reform; they stress the need for more non-governmental involvement in the provision if basic services. However some worry that creating bigger ministries with more responsibilities could backfire.

  2. np2g11 March 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Wen Jiabao’s report at the National People’s Congress focused on elements such as growth, corruption, welfare and environment. The overall growth rate is to stay at 7.5% showing that it is already accepted that China cannot keep growing as fast as it used to. However this goal is expected to be easily achieved as in the previous years. What is worth noticing is that some of the points mentioned by Wen Jiabao have a certain attention to the social welfare of Chinese citizens, maybe signifying that efforts need to put in areas such as the environment, housing or pensions.

    Not much has been said about the Clean Air Act and it will be Xi Jinping’s responsibility to decide how much China is willing to invest in fighting pollution, as this implies strict regulations over its firms. Certainly reforming China will be a slow process and Xi Jinping is likely to tackle issues related to the environment or social welfare in a way that is not heavily harmful to the countries rapid growth.

    • jk10g11 May 15, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

      The issue of the food security an environment was however tackled in the conferences aftermath.
      When the new premier Li Kenquiang, who follows Wen Jiabao announced made his first press tatement he did not only tackle the economic issues that China is facing and called for a fairer distributuion of wealth and the strengthening of a consumption based economy, (instead of China’s current reliance on export led growth) but he also referred to food safety and the environment.
      In his press release however, he was vague, speaking of his aim to upgrade the economy to give people the opportunity to enjoy healthier and cleaner air.

      He spoke of the introduction of harsher rules for the people who polluted the country and stricter controls on the food and water quality.

      Experts say that these announcements are a step towards the right direction, but by no means a reason to celebrate yet. The official announcement right after the congress might have shown the China’s new leaders are more aware than ever of the danger, but this unfortunately does not mean that change is going to be introduced overnight.

      As a Chinese observer pointed out, the leaders speak with passion about these issues, what of it however, makes it into policy reforms and change, remains to be seen.

      Li Kenquiang is, as Premier and thus ‘second in command’ the first person in charge of China’s economical planning and as such, this will remain his first and foremost focus.

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