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