- David Gitter, Julia Bowie, Brock Erdahl
Weekly Report 1|20 3.03.2018-3.09.2018 (Two Sessions I)
The National People’s Congress adopted a series of amendments to the PRC Constitution that included the removal of term limits for the PRC presidency and vice presidency and the addition of Xi Jinping Thought. The new National Supervision Commission was given constitutional standing and authority.
CPPCC Meeting Coverage:
Xi Jinping: Upholding Multi-party Cooperation and Advancing Socialist Democracy to Win the Struggle for a Moderately Prosperous Society
3.4 Xi Jinping saw members of other parties, non-party members and members of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese attending the first session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee where he called for consolidation of multi-party cooperation under CCP leadership so that all could unite in the struggle for a moderately prosperous society. Xi Jinping made a speech extending greetings to all NPC and CPPCC attendees, democratic parties members, non-party members, overseas Chinese, and returned overseas Chinese. The past five years since the 18th Party Congress, he commented, have been an extraordinary five years during which major challenges had been addressed. This hard-won achievement was the result of strong leadership from the Central Committee, the united struggle of the common people, as well as the hard work and wisdom of all democratic parties and non-party members. China’s multi-party system combines Marxist party theory with China’s reality. By closely uniting all parties and non-party affiliates around a common goal and reducing the disadvantages of competition, it focuses on centralizing opinions and suggestions through institutional procedures to promote scientific decision-making. This will prevent the social ills that arise from partisanship, class, region or group differences. This is in keeping with China’s current reality and traditional Chinese values, and constitutes a “major political contribution to human civilization” (人类政治文明的重大贡献). Xi called on all parties to enhance society and win the “three tough battles” (三大攻坚战), through depth investigation, study, criticism and supervision. Xi noted that this year is the 70th anniversary of the release of the “May Day Slogan” (五一口号) and that non-party affiliated intellectuals must be leaders in upholding and practicing the core values of socialism, and the overseas Chinese federation should serve as a bridge to unite overseas Chinese and mobilize returned overseas Chinese to contribute to reform and opening up.
Wang Yang and Wang Huning Respectively Meet Minority Ethnic Delegation and Hong Kong and Macau Delegation
3.6 Politburo Standing Committee members Wang Yang (汪洋) and Wang Huning (王沪宁) met with an ethnic minority delegation and Hong Kong and Macau delegates during the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee respectively. Wang Yang pointed out that ethnic work is an important part of the overall work of the Party and the country and an important task of united front work and the CPPCC. The poverty alleviation and the environmental protection work in ethnic areas should follow the strategic deployment of the 19th Party Congress and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era. The interaction between different ethnic groups and the ability to address ethnic affairs by law should also be reinforced to promote the harmonious development between groups. Wang Huning met with Hong Kong and Macau delegates and said that the “one country, two systems” principle should be implemented comprehensively and that Hong Kong and Macau should be included in the overall development of the country.
NPC Meeting Coverage:
PD Editorial: Congratulate the Opening of the 13th National People’s Congress
3.5 People’s Daily published an editorial congratulating the opening of the 13th National People’s Congress. It emphasized that this meeting is significant for combining the Party’s views and the people’s will into the country’s aspiration, implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, and mobilizing the Party and the country to “secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.” The editorial stressed that implementing “people as masters of the country” into the country’s political and social life is a requirement for achieving the goals in the new era.
Li Keqiang’s Report on the Work of the Government
3.5 In his report on the work of the government to the National People’s Congress (NPC), Premier Li Keqiang first listed out the achievements of the government in the past five years, talked about the prospect for 2018, and then provided recommendations for future work. The achievements listed included China’s economic growth and its works on innovative development, the Belt and Road Initiative, poverty alleviation, environmental improvement, SOEs reforms, building a strong army, and pushing forward great country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Li emphasized that 2018 is the opening year for implementing the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, and the goals for the year are to reach approximately 6.5% GDP growth and 3% consumer price growth, and to create more than 11 millions jobs, keep the surveyed unemployment rate within 5.5%, keep the growth of income at the same rate as that of economic growth, and reduce pollutant emissions. Li proposed that the government should devote itself to deepening supply-side structural reform, strengthening artificial intelligence (AI) research and application, reducing cooperates’ tax burden, improving incentives for encouraging innovation, steadily raising income levels, developing fair and qualified education, increasing the level of healthcare, and continuing down the path of peaceful development in 2018.
Wang Chen Explains Constitutional Amendments Draft to the 13th NPC
3.5 NPC Standing Committee Secretary-General Wang Chen (王晨) explained the draft of the PRC constitutional amendments to the 13th NPC and pointed out a few principles that should be followed during the amendment process. The principles include adhering to the Party’s leadership over constitutional amendments, strictly following legal procedures, and insisting on making minor amendments instead of major changes. Wang mentioned that the draft proposed 21 changes to the current constitution, and 11 of them are related to the establishment of the National Supervision Commission. An additional section was proposed regarding the National Supervision Commission to regulate the nature, status, name, personnel, terms, and leadership system of it.
Work Report of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate Delivered at NPC
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
3.9 Procurator-General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) Cao Jianming (曹建明) delivered the work report of the SPP at the 13th NPC. The report indicated the SPP has resolutely implemented the Central Committee’s plan for the reform of the National Supervision System. It also highlighted how important experience with this reform was obtained thanks to the pilot programs in Beijing, Zhejiang, and Shanxi. The report also pointed out the inspection mechanisms of the provinces and municipalities without pilot programs prosecuted 46,032 individuals for crimes related to taking advantage of their posts, which represented a 4.7% increase over the previous year. It also noted 44,151 prosecutions and the anti-corruption, anti-dereliction of duty, and crime prevention bureaus of the level 4 procuratorate have been attached to the new system.
Two Sessions Authorized Release: NPC Adopts Proposed Amendments to PRC Constitution
3.11 The first session of the 13th NPC adopted a series of amendments to the PRC Constitution that were officially proposed by the CCP Central Committee on 26 January. Over 99% of the 2,980 deputies voted in favor of the changes. The most notable amendments include the removal of term limits for the PRC presidency and vice presidency and the additions of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the Constitution’s preamble, a clause emphasizing Party leadership as the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics, a required oath of allegiance to the Constitution for government workers, a clause on core socialist values, and constitutional standing and power for the new National Supervision Commission.
Commentary on Constitutional Reforms:
Zhang Yesui: National Supervision Commission is an Anti-corruption Work Institution with Chinese Characteristics
China Discipline and Supervision Newspaper
3.4 The spokesperson of the 13th NPC Zhang Yesui (张业遂) said during a press conference that “the National Supervision Commission is an anti-corruption work institution with Chinese characteristics” and that the supervision law is the country’s law for anti-corruption. Zhang said that the National Supervision Commission will work with the CCDI on discipline inspection and supervision work. Zhang added that the Party’s unified leadership on anti-corruption work would be reinforced through conducting institutional and organizational innovation. The drafts of the constitutional amendments and the supervision law will be voted on by the NPC on 11 March and 20 March respectively.
Supervision Ministry Head Yang Xiaodu: National Supervision Commission Fills in the Blank and Provides Supervision over Public Power
3.5 When asked whether allowing National Supervision Commission and Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to work together will make the Commission a super body institution, Ministry of Supervision head Yang Xiaodu (杨晓渡) responded that the scope of the authority of the Commission will expand; however, its responsibility will mainly remain the same as the Party’s discipline inspection work and the state’s administrative supervisory work in the past. After incorporating the anti-corruption system of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and people’s procuratorates nationwide into the Commission, the personnel working on supervisory work will increase by 10%. Yang also emphasized that the Administrative Supervision Law in the past only allowed supervision over public servants, and the creation of the Commission will fill in the blank and provide supervision over whoever is exercising public power. However, Yang emphasized that the Commission is not a super body. The majority of the Commission’s work will be to provide reminders and to prevent people from making mistakes, he explained. Nevertheless, he stressed that the Commission will also firmly punish the corrupted and conduct work on political thought.
You Quan: Constitutional Amendments are a Necessity of the Times
3.7 Speaking to the Anhui delegation to the NPC at a deliberation session on amendments to the PRC Constitution, United Front Work Department Head You Quan (尤权) demonstrated firm support for the proposed changes. He said that the constitutional amendments are “a major political event” and “advancing constitutional amendment is a necessity of the times, essential to put in practice, and indispensable for the rule of law.”
Zhong Sheng: While Focusing on the Two Sessions, the World Seeks the Secret to China’s Success
3.5 The commentary pen name Zhong Sheng (钟声) stated the world is focused on the Two Sessions to obtain a greater understanding of China in a new era. The article praised the 19th Party Congress for providing clear direction for the creation of a modernized great power and a comprehensive plan for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people. It also argued the Two Sessions will show how “Chinese wisdom” can be brought to bear on the difficult problems facing every country. It concluded by claiming this year’s Two Sessions not only reveals China’s “high-spiritedness” in a new era but also adds to the world’s vitality and energy.
Foreign Media Covers China’s Two Sessions: China’s Economy Enters a New Era with the Key Word “Reform”
3.5 A China News Service article reported that foreign media has interpreted Li Keqiang’s work report to the NPC as a signal of new changes in China’s economy, diplomacy and military affairs. The article noted observations made by The Korea Times (Hankook Ilbo), and asserted that because China is one of South Korea’s most influential neighbors, South Korean media is paying close attention to how the Two Sessions could affect China-ROK relations. The BBC and The Financial Times were also mentioned, as was the importance of China’s 2018 development goals to British media. FT is said to credit China’s policy for resolutely tackling the “three tough battles” (三大攻坚战), and calling for the “re-liberation of thought” (思想要再解放). Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao noted the word “reform” appeared 97 times in this year’s work report, and believes this is a key indicator for this year’s development theme. Sputnik News discussed how China’s financial development will allow for easier cross-border investment and foreign expert immigration, as well as warmer China-Russian ties in the future. Overall, foreign media noted China’s new 6.5% GDP growth goal reflects China’s shift to high quality development, according to the article.
Xin Shiping : Two Sessions, the Fighting Song for Inspiring the New Era
3.6 A Xinhua commentary under the byline “Xin Shiping” (辛识平) named “striving” (奋斗) as the key word for the Two Sessions and developing coherent consensus as the sessions’ main theme. The people were said to feel the self-confidence of China in a new era from reading this year’s work report. “All happiness is created through struggle, and struggle itself is a kind of happiness,” (幸福都是奋斗出来的，奋斗本身就是一种幸福) the commentary stated, describing the pride of people united in rowing the great “S.S. China” (“中国号”巨轮) through the fog. Looking ahead, there are still many difficulties in store, particularly eradicating poverty, revitalizing rural regions, and ecological conservation. The commentary presented NPC deputy Shi Guangyin (石光银) and CPPCC member Luo Jianhong (罗建红) as positive examples of people who actively worked through hardship to improve people’s lives, and called on everyone to start from the Two Sessions and work together to shape the future.
Liu He Visits the United States
3.4 At the invitation of the US government, Politburo member and China-US Comprehensive Economic Dialogue leader for the Chinese side Liu He (刘鹤) visited the United States, where he talked to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about China-US trade cooperation and common issues of concern. Liu He pointed out the close communication Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump have maintained, and that both sides should push for better pragmatic cooperation on trade and other issues. He further said that developing China-US economic relations advanced the interests of both countries as well as global prosperity. According to the article, these talks allowed both sides to deepen their understanding of one another, both parties engaged in a frank discussion and both prefer cooperation to confrontation.
CCP Central Committee Decides on Deepening Party and State Reforms
3.5 Originally passed on 28 February but reported on 5 March, the CCP Central Committee Third Plenum passed a decision on deepening structural reforms to Party and state institutions in order to meet the needs of the new era’s new mission. Reforms are to respect the principles of persevering in leadership of the Party, taking the people as the center, persisting in optimization, coordination, and high efficiency, and comprehensively ruling according to the law. The main theme of changes was that in “the Party, government, military, people, and academia; in the east, west, south, north, and center, the Party leads all." (党政军民学，东西南北中，党是领导一切的). Major reforms of the decision included: establishing robust Party leading mechanisms for major areas of work; strengthening the leading position of Party organizations in relation to same-level organizations; improving the utility of functional Party departments, such as those devoted to organization, propaganda, and united front work; advancing the Party’s discipline inspection system and national supervision system reform, including through the establishment of national, provincial, municipal, and county supervision commissions in the same offices of Party discipline organs; rationally deploying the function of macro-management departments and reducing to the greatest degree possible the government's direct allocation of market resources; properly understanding and implementing division of labor in the Party and government; and strengthening the Party’s leadership of deepening Party and state structural reforms.
Wang Yi: China’s Resolve to Defend the Peace and Stability of the South China Sea is Unshakable
3.8 Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) told reporters China’s resolve to defend the peace and stability of the South China Sea is unshakable on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress. He declared China’s approach to handling the South China Sea dispute is based on the interests of the Chinese people, historical facts, regional peace, and international law. Wang stated the South China Sea today is primarily defined by opportunity and cited negotiations on a regional code of conduct between China and ASEAN as evidence of such. However, he also indicated the South China Sea still faces many challenges and named outside powers sending fully armed warships and planes to the region to flaunt their military strength as the most serious one.
Zhong Sheng: China’s Striving Adds to the World’s Spiritual Wealth
3.7 The commentary pen name Zhong Sheng reflected on the spiritual background (精神底色) of China’s achievements in development. The article stated self-reliance and arduous struggle (自力更生、艰苦奋斗) are among the most important explanations. It also argued, due to the country’s success in modernization, China’s achievements and developmental path have become a kind of worldwide spiritual wealth (一笔世界性的精神财富), inspiring countries and peoples who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence. It ended by claiming Chinese who have thrown themselves into building a modernized socialist great power are not only striving to realize their own dreams but also making a contribution to the world’s common development and prosperity.
Chongqing Party Secretary Claims City Still Dealing with Political Corruption
China Discipline and Supervision Newspaper
3.6 Party Committee Secretary of Chongqing Chen Min’er (陈敏尔) spoke about restoring the city’s “political ecology” (政治生态) with reporters on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress (NPC). He praised the Party’s investigation and punishment of both Bo Xilai (薄熙来) and Sun Zhengcai (孙政才) as both wise and timely, adding these actions eliminated a hidden political danger for the Party and the source of pollution in Chongqing’s political ecology. Chen also said Chongqing must continue purging the “remaining poison” of Bo Xilai thought and the “evil influence” of Sun Zhengcai. He stated Chongqing today is united and the city will be even better in the future thanks to the Central Committee’s strong leadership and Xi Jinping’s care and guidance.
Tianjin Discipline Inspection Secretary Vows to Set Off a “Storm of Responsibility”
3.7 Tianjin Discipline Inspection Secretary Deng Xiuming (邓修明) answered questions about the city’s efforts to purify its political ecology at the sidelines of the NPC. He criticized some of the city’s cadres for having a negative attitude, practicing nonfeasance, and not assuming responsibility and noted it investigated and punished thousands of cadres last year. To resolve the aforesaid problems, Deng stated Tianjin intends to use a revolutionary spirit to set off a “storm of responsibility” (责任风暴). He explained this means the city will step up its efforts to investigate and punish cadres over the next three years.
CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION (CMC)
Provide Strong Support to Realize the Party’s Strong Military Goal in a New Era
3.6 The PRC Ministry of Finance proposed increasing the national defense expenditure for 2018 by 8.1% to 1.107 trillion RMB. Academy of Military Sciences researcher Chen Zhou (陈舟) commented that the increase is reasonable and legitimate considering the changes in the country’s comprehensive strength, the security environment and the global strategic situation. He said that the increased expenditure will mainly be used in investing in weapons and equipments, improving training, and securing welfare for the military, which will provide a strong support for China to realize the strong military goal in a new era. Chen also emphasized that China’s national defense budget is transparent and that China has unswervingly adhered to the path of peaceful development and a defensive national defense policy. China’s development would not pose a threat to any country, and China would never seek hegemony or expansion.
Integrate Military Construction into the Nation’s Development Plan
3.6 Xi Jinping spoke at the first plenary meeting of the 19th Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development (中央军民融合发展委员会) and emphasized that an integrated national strategic system and capability must be established, and that elevating the “integrated military and civilian development” to a national strategy is a critical policy decision that is made based on national development and the overall security situation. Heilongjiang Province Military District Deputy Commander Qiu Yuechao (邱月潮) pointed out the resources that military competition requires today almost covers the entire country’s strategic resources; therefore, military demands must be embedded in the economic and social developments of the country.
COMPREHENSIVELY DEEPENING REFORM
Central Committee General Office Issues Guiding Opinion: NPC’s Review and Supervision of Budget Should Focus on Expense Budget and Policies
3.8 The Central Committee General Office issued a guiding opinion (指导意见) signifying an important decision to strengthen the National People’s Congress’s (NPC) examination and supervision over the government’s budget. In a conversation with Xinhua News agency, the responsible person (负责人) at the NPC Standing Committee Budgetary Affairs Commission (人大常委会预算工委) discussed the implications of the guiding opinion and related reforms. The person explained that NPC budget regulation has played an important role in promoting economic and social development and governing according to law. In the past, the focus of government budget regulation has focused mainly on balancing budgets and not enough on policies, expenditures, or fiscal fund performance. This new guiding opinion indicates the new important direction budget regulation will play in policy implementation. Furthermore, this greater scope will allow the NPC greater control of the nation’s macro-economy and improve budget standardization. The guiding opinion explicitly states six requirements, including adhering to the centralized leadership of the Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core, adhering to legal statutes, and exploring innovative initiatives. It also puts forward eight measures for consolidating and improving existing procedures, as well as specific instructions for all levels of government to accept the budgetary supervision of the NPC at their respective level.
People’s Bank of China Governor and Personnel Respond to Hot Financial Issues
3.9 At the press conference for the 13th NPC session, People’s Bank of China (人民银行) Governor Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川), Deputy Governor Yi Gang (易纲), and State Administration for Foreign Exchange (国家外汇管理局) Administrator Pan Gongsheng (潘功胜) answered questions from reporters on financial reform and developing issues. Zhou directed his attention to reducing risk in China’s economy, commenting that regulators are currently in the process of formulating basic rules for regulating financial holding companies. He remarked that China’s rapid debt growth had stabilized and had entered a phase of gradual downward leverage adjustment. Zhou observed that there had been no significant changes in China’s foreign reserves or international balance of payments. Rather than GDP, Zhou recommended the important indicators to watch are inflation and the employment rate. The three also discussed monetary policy, creating more market access to the outside world, opening up a “south-bound” (南向) bond market, digital currencies, and mortgage interest rates.
INTERNATIONAL LIAISON WORK
CCCWS: Gather the Wisdom and Strength of Political Party to Build a Community of Shared Future for Mankind
3.5 The think tank of the International Department, the China Center for Contemporary World Studies (CCCWS), published an article in Study Times discussing the CCP’s relationship with the world in the new era. It stated that Xi Jinping’s talk at the “CCP in Dialogue with the World” meeting explained how each political party could build a community of shared future for mankind together. The “four initiatives” (四点倡议) proposed advocates building a peaceful, prosperous, culturalized, and clean world. The article stated that the CCP will bring the world more developmental and cooperative opportunities through promoting China’s development; however, the CCP was said to not “import” foreign models or “export” the China model. Additionally, the article also emphasized that China has to continuously expand its “friend circle” with the world’s political parties. “Party diplomacy with Chinese characteristics” could serve the international work of the Party and the country, facilitating the elevation of the Party’s international image and contributing to building a modern socialist country.
3.1-3.3 Central Committee alternate member and Peking University Party committee secretary Hao Ping (郝平) led the Spirit of the 19th Party Congress Foreign Propaganda Group on a trip to Portugal at the invitation of the Portuguese Socialist Party. While there, he separately met with the deputy secretary-generals of the Socialist Party and Social Democratic Party and attended a briefing session on the spirit of the 19th Party Congress.
3.4-3.6 Hao Ping led the Spirit of the 19th Party Congress Foreign Propaganda Group on a trip to Malta at the invitation of the Maltese Labour Party. While there, he separately met with Labour Party Deputy Leader, Deputy Prime Minister of Malta, and Minister of Health Chris Fearne, Deputy Leader for Labour Party Affairs and Minister for the Economy, Investment, and Small Business Christian Cardona, Nationalist Party Head Adrian Delia, Minister for Environment, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change Josè Herrera, and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries & Animal Rights Clint Camilleri. He also attended a briefing session on the spirit of the 19th Party Congress.
3.6 International Department Vice Minister Li Jun (李军) met with a Sudanese National Congress Party cadre study group led by Osama Faisal Elsayed Ali, the State Minister of Investment, in Beijing. The Sudanese side expressed the National Congress Party’s hope to strengthen exchanges on learning from the CCP’s experience in governance, especially those on economic development.
3.7 International Department Vice Minister Guo Yezhou (郭业州) met with an India Foundation study group led by Shekhar Sinha, senior researcher and former Vice Admiral in the Indian navy, in Beijing. The two sides exchanged views on developing China-India relations and advancing think tank cooperation and cultural exchange between the two countries.
3.9 Guo Yezhou met with the Secretary-General of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties Park Robyug in Beijing. The two sides exchanged views on the conference’s annual activities and future development.
3.9 Hao Ping led the Spirit of the 19th Party Congress Foreign Propaganda Group on a trip to Spain, where he met with representatives of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and People’s Party. He attended a briefing session on the spirit of the 19th Party Congress to various segments of Spanish society including Spanish political parties, members of the national legislature, think tanks, and the media. All walks of life in attendance actively evaluated the significance of the 19th Party Congress and expressed willingness to work with China in advancing win-win cooperation and world peace and development.
Image Source: Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein