Nine issues likely to dominate China’s Two Sessions Published: 2014-2-24 16:58:00

Editor's Note

China’s 31 provincial regions held the two annual sessions of their legislative and political consultative bodies in January and February, which are regarded as warm-ups leading to the national Two Sessions in March. Below are some of China’s most pressing concerns and are likely to be hot topics at the Two Sessions.


Air pollution is a perennial headache in China, with its industrialized Yangtze and Zhujiang river deltas and the area around Beijing being the hardest hit. But after a hazy 2013, alarm bells are ringing in areas where air pollution was previously moderate.

During this year’s provincial two sessions, 29 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have proposed planned efforts to reduce smog levels.

[Beijing] Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun declared an "all-out effort" on January 16 to tackle air pollution by cutting coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and transforming 300 polluting companies this year.

[Shanghai] Air pollution was also a major concern for the public and a hot topic among delegates. Several proposals gave suggestions about finding clean energy for local buses, adjusting the industrial layout and limiting polluting emissions.

[Hebei] The government report claimed that a fund of 7 billion yuan ($1.16 billion) will be invested in environmental protection in 2014 to make sure the intensity of PM2.5 is reduced by 4 percent.

Delivered at the legislative conference, the government report called for "high attention" on urban smog and for enhancing pollution control and monitoring measures.

Unlike pollution-dogged Beijing, smog is new to Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which has long boasted a good natural environment. After several bouts of hazy weather gripped the region last year, alarmed locals brought the issue to this year's "two sessions."

Read more:
Choking the dragon: Government acts as smog suffocates China
Beijing law sets stiff targets for PM2.5 levels
China's most-polluted province faces enormous challenge
Smog a "two sessions" concern for China's provinces

          Lower GDP targets

Most local governments on the Chinese mainland have cut economic growth targets this year amid a slowing economy to focus on quality and efficiency, recent data released at local legislative sessions showed.

Among the 31 provinces, regions and municipalities across the country, 22 local governments have lowered their GDP targets this year while seven local governments have kept the target the same as last year, according to statistics published Sunday by the website of People's Daily, a flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.

Source: Government work reports of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions

Read more:

Local govts reduce 2014 GDP targets
Smog, GDP dominate provincial two sessions
Local legislative sessions stress ‘balanced development’
China bids farewell to GDP worship
Shanghai mayor vows steady growth
Guangdong GDP tops $1t

          Free trade zones

The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), which started on September 29, is the latest attempt by the Chinese government to test new policies intended to reduce government intervention in the economy and open up further to global investment.

Major financial reform measures like yuan convertibility, market-set interest rates and cross-border use of the Chinese currency will be tested in the zone.

A total 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, including inland provinces, proposed plans to establish FTZs during this year’s provincial two sessions.

Read more:
China denies approving 12 FTZs
FTZ to include Baiyun airport
MOFCOM backs Guangdong’s Hong Kong-Macao free trade zone proposal
Case for Guangdong FTZ hangs in the balance
Shanghai pilot FTZ to be inaugurated on September 29

          Child policy

East China's Zhejiang Province implemented a new birth policy on January 17 allowing couples to have two children if one of them is an only child, according to an announcement by the standing committee of the provincial people's congress.

Following Zhejiang's lead, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces have also allowed couples to have a second baby if either parent is from a one-child family.

The governments of Beijing, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Jiangsu Province also announced their intentions to relax the policy in March. Other provinces promised changes in the first half of 2014 except for those with populations of over 100 million, such as Henan Province.

Read more:
New birth policy goes into force in E China province
Anhui allows 2nd child
Beijing relaxes family planning policy
Tianjin relaxes one-child policy
More children, fewer jobs
Experts predict new baby boom

          New urbanization

New urbanization was a buzz word during the two sessions of all 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, and was included in regional government work reports. More than 20 regions have decided to reform household registration systems and help rural migrant populations gain urban residence permits, reported.

China’s top leadership pledged to steadily move forward in urbanization efforts during a central urbanization work conference held in December, 2013.

China's urbanization rate is expected to hit 60 percent by 2018, according to a blue book released by the CASS in December, 2013.

Read more:
Beijing, Hebei mull population transfer
Influx of migrants leads SMPC (Shanghai Municipal People's Congress) to call for better planning
China pledges steady, human-centered urbanization
Three big concerns around China’s new urbanization plan

         Reshuffle of provincial-level

A total of 30 provincial-level officials, with an average age of 57.6, took up new posts after local two sessions. These posts include chairman of the standing committee of the provincial people's congress, provincial governor and vice-chairman of the provincial political consultative conferences, reported Nandu Daily.

New trends:
● A growing number of officials were transferred to take up other posts after serving at people's congress or political consultative bodies. In the past, posts at these two bodies were staffed by senior officials who were about to retire.

● Two officials were elected as vice-chairman of the standing committee of the people's congress at a different place from the one they currently serve in. Precedents for the practice are very rare.

Read more:
Regional two sessions show new trends in ministerial postings


The term “reform” has dominated this year’s provincial two sessions. In the government work reports of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, the word “reform” was used a total 1,539 times, nearly 50 times on average.

Reform refers to governance and economics, which includes reducing administrative approval procedures, promoting market-oriented reform in State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and providing more support to the private economy.

Read more:
Chinese government to further streamline administrative approvals
Fiscal, monetary policy highlights reform concerns
Credit craving lures SOEs onto thin ice
Govt to continue reforming SOEs
Guangzhou SOE reform
SOE ownership to reform

          Pension service

Many provincial governments have proposed policies to improve pension services in their government work reports in order to better service the aging populating.

Beijing plans to open community nursing homes and 80 more senior citizen centers in 2014, while many regions, such as Jilin Province, Shanghai Municipality and Shandong Province, vowed to encourage private investment into pension services.

Read more:
Unifying pension system a monumental breakthrough
Experts propose increasing retirement age to relieve pension woes

        Cutting public expenses

A total 31 provincial regions vowed to severely limit spending on “public expenses” – namely State spending on cars, overseas travel and receptions, in reaction to the central government’s recent frugality campaign.

Most provincial regions promised to cut such spending this year by 5 to 30 percent, compared to that in 2013, while others pledge not to increase or severely control earmarked funds.

Read more:
Officials barred from disguising tourism as business trips
Senior official vows harsh anti-corruption drive

Source: Agencies -

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