The New Era in Beijing

18 Mar

As the China People’s Congress approves the new cabinet and Xi Jinping is sworn in as president, 14th March, a new transition has been completed in Chinese politics.

Xi Jinping is known as a political and economic reformer and has recently talked about a ‘renaissance’ in China’s future. However in his speech which closed the annual National People’s Congress, Xi Jinping stressed a nationalist tone which reinforces the view he will pursue an assertive foreign policy, stating that the military should improve its ability to “win battles and… protect national sovereignty and security”. Though reform did look to appear on the horizon as both Xi JInping and Li Keqiang talked of the corruption within the party and Li Kenqiang promised to reform the central government, citing the growing inequality gap and “extravagance” in government spending.

The Chinese media also focused on reform in the new era, the China Daily citied economic slowdown, corruption, healthcare and pollution as all issues in need of tackling through reform. Wen Wei Po also gave the territorial disputes as a new challenge to be faced by the leadership as well as increased US presence in the Asia-Pacific region, however Li Keqiang, when talking of Chinese-US relations, stated that “common interests far outweigh our differences”.

Economic growth was also a key topic as Li Keqiang said that the government was unlikely to reach its economic growth target of 7.5% for the year, while central government funds increases by only 1.6% over January and February. However this unlikely to affect  reform as spending on social programs will only increase.

Greater democratic reform may also be part of China’s future, Xi Jinping in his speech stated “I will accept supervision and monitoring from the people”, which seemed to suggest more democratic tendencies maybe part of China’s political reform as public support for democracy grows within China. The Hong Kong Economic Journal also states that “the political structure of a one-party monopoly of power is no longer able to meet the diverse demands of society. The later the Xi-Li system embarks on political reform, the greater the pressure it will encounter”. Despite this, the Apple Daily warned that unless Xi Jinping was prepared to separate the Communist Part of China from the government then political reform looked unlikely, though Xi Jinping has urged for more competitive election for China’s elite by having more candidates than available seats. However small this may be, it could be the start of a new era for political reform in China.

The new leadershp:

Xi Jinping: President of the People’s Republic of China (also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Chairman of the Part Central Military Commission Chairman of the State, Central Military Commission)

Wang Yi: Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China

Lou Jiwei: Finance Minister of the People’s Republic of China

Zhou Xiaochouan: Central Bank Chief

Li Keqiang: Premier of the People’s Republic of China

Sources:

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21797185

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21819494

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21812057

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/11/06/us-china-congress-idUSBRE8A50J420121106

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57574750/chinas-new-leader-rejects-hedonism-and-extravagance/

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3 Responses to “The New Era in Beijing”

  1. db7g09 March 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    I am particularly interested in Li Keqiang, China’s new premier, and his performance at yesterday’s news conference. The premier’s news conference on the closing day of “the two meetings” is an important date on the calendar, and was very interesting to watch.

    The event is the only time in a year when the premier will meet the domestic and foreign media and pontificate on a wide range of issues, unvarnished and live on national television. Therefore, is seen as one of the few opportunities for accountability of China’s premier.

    He came across as being confident and pragmatic in dealing with questions on what he intends to achieve in the next five years ranging from pollution and urbanisation through to Sino-US and Sino-Russian relations.

    Whereas his predecessor, Wen Jiabao, relished peppering his replies with poems and quotes from Chinese and foreign philosophers and urging the mainlanders to look at stars in the sky, Li avoided the high-sounding rhetoric and instead chose popular slang to illustrate his points.

    Already billed by the state media as the reform-minded premier, Li vowed to push forward with necessary reforms to make mainland economic growth more sustainable, boost spending on improving mainlanders’ livelihoods, build up a cleaner government and safeguard social justice.

    Highlighting his continuous plan to streamline government and fight corruption, he promised to cut an existing 1,700 administrative approval items by at least one third in the coming five years, after acknowledging that mainlanders were faced with having to get approval from dozens of departments in order to start a new business. Li also vowed to tackle pollution and food safety problems with an “iron fist and firm resolution”.

    As the news conference is highly choreographed with moderators carefully selecting journalists to raise questions, it was interesting to note that Li was spared hot-issue questions covering China’s frosty ties with Japan, the tense situation over North Korea, soaring mainland property prices, how to undertake further financial reforms and the internationalisation of the yuan.

    To the disappointment of many journalists, a reporter from Phoenix TV, the only Hong Kong-based media given the opportunity to raise questions, failed to engage Li over rising tension between Hong Kong and the mainland and the future of the city’s political development.
    Another question reporters should have raised with Li was whether he would make a stronger premier than Wen. After Wen was chosen as premier 10 years ago, there were concerns over his ability to take on the big challenges and responsibilities of a premier, with some cynics suggesting that his surname, Wen, which rhymed with the word “moderate”, signalled he was unlikely to undertake necessary tough reforms.

    Ten years later, those cynics are not wide of the mark as many mainlanders have complained about a lack of meaningful economic and political reforms over the past decade. By contrast, Li’s given name includes the word “Qiang”, which means powerful or strong. Let us hope he delivers what his name promises.

    Sources:

    ‘China Focus : What Chinese People Think About the Two Meetings’ – 7 March 2013 (accessed 18 March 2013)

    ‘Premier Li Keqiang’s debut press conference’ – 17 March 2013- (accessed 17 March 2013).

    ‘Li Keqiang stresses market reforms first press conference premier’ – 17 March 2013 – (accessed 17 March 2013).

    Tania Branigan ‘China’s new premier, Li Keqiang, vows to tackle bureaucracy and corruption’ – 17 March 2013 – (accesssed 17 March 2013).

    ‘Live updates: Li Keqiang’s first news conference’ – 18 March 2013 – (accessed 18 March 2013).

  2. db7g09 March 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I am particularly interested in Li Keqiang, China’s new premier, and his performance at yesterday’s news conference. The premier’s news conference on the closing day of “the two meetings” is an important date on the calendar, and was very interesting to watch.

    The event is the only time in a year when the premier will meet the domestic and foreign media and pontificate on a wide range of issues, unvarnished and live on national television. Therefore, is seen as one of the few opportunities for accountability of China’s premier.

    He came across as being confident and pragmatic in dealing with questions on what he intends to achieve in the next five years ranging from pollution and urbanisation through to Sino-US and Sino-Russian relations.

    Whereas his predecessor, Wen Jiabao, relished peppering his replies with poems and quotes from Chinese and foreign philosophers and urging the mainlanders to look at stars in the sky, Li avoided the high-sounding rhetoric and instead chose popular slang to illustrate his points.

    Already billed by the state media as the reform-minded premier, Li vowed to push forward with necessary reforms to make mainland economic growth more sustainable, boost spending on improving mainlanders’ livelihoods, build up a cleaner government and safeguard social justice.

    Highlighting his continuous plan to streamline government and fight corruption, he promised to cut an existing 1,700 administrative approval items by at least one third in the coming five years, after acknowledging that mainlanders were faced with having to get approval from dozens of departments in order to start a new business. Li also vowed to tackle pollution and food safety problems with an “iron fist and firm resolution”.

    As the news conference is highly choreographed with moderators carefully selecting journalists to raise questions, it was interesting to note that Li was spared hot-issue questions covering China’s frosty ties with Japan, the tense situation over North Korea, soaring mainland property prices, how to undertake further financial reforms and the internationalisation of the yuan.

    To the disappointment of many journalists, a reporter from Phoenix TV, the only Hong Kong-based media given the opportunity to raise questions, failed to engage Li over rising tension between Hong Kong and the mainland and the future of the city’s political development. Another question reporters should have raised with Li was whether he would make a stronger premier than Wen. After Wen was chosen as premier 10 years ago, there were concerns over his ability to take on the big challenges and responsibilities of a premier, with some cynics suggesting that his surname, Wen, which rhymed with the word “moderate”, signalled he was unlikely to undertake necessary tough reforms.

    Ten years later, those cynics are not wide of the mark as many mainlanders have complained about a lack of meaningful economic and political reforms over the past decade. By contrast, Li’s given name includes the word “Qiang”, which means powerful or strong. Let us hope he delivers what his name promises.

    Sources:

    ‘China Focus : What Chinese People Think About the Two Meetings’ – 7 March 2013 -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDsmMV5uZjo (accessed 18 March 2013)

    ‘Premier Li Keqiang’s debut press conference’ – 17 March 2013- http://www.china.org.cn/china/NPC_CPPCC_2013/2013-03/17/content_28269051.htm (accessed 17 March 2013).

    ‘Li Keqiang stresses market reforms first press conference premier’ – 17 March 2013 –
    http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1193255/li-keqiang-stresses-market-reforms-first-press-conference-premier (accessed 17 March 2013).

    Tania Branigan ‘China’s new premier, Li Keqiang, vows to tackle bureaucracy and corruption’ – 17 March 2013 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/17/china-premier-li-keqiang-bureaucracy> (accesssed 17 March 2013).

    ‘Live updates: Li Keqiang’s first news conference’ – 18 March 2013 – http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1192830/live-updates-li-keqiangs-first-news-conference (accessed 18 March 2013).

  3. jc35g10 April 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    It will be interesting to follow the popularity and performance of China’s new leader. Many feel that he is currently in a difficult position to impress as, like the USA before Obama, many Chinese had been feeling slightly disheartened with previous leaders and so “expectations are so high, that even if he does a decent job, he is likely to disappoint”. However, there are many early hopeful signs and he has a good team of experienced people to help him.

    Xi Jinping and the new premier, Li Keqiang have both stated that the Chinese government needs to loosen its grip and be more of a “service oriented” government, and that there needs to be a “division of power” between the government and enterprises, all which seems positive and proactive.

    It is also being emphasised that is it key that Jinping remains and encourages good relations between Obama and himself, as this will keep the trust and trade will continue to boom. Many have high hopes that Jinping will revitalise reform and turn the country around.

    Source: http://qz.com/69617/for-a-successful-first-term-xi-jinping-will-have-to-look-no-further-than-barack-obama/

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