Xi's focus sheds light on top agenda at two sessions
Boosting confidence in economic development remains key
Published: Mar 02, 2023 09:07 PM
Two Sessions Photo:Xinhua

Two Sessions Photo:Xinhua

As China prepares to kick off its annual two sessions on Saturday, what can be expected from one of China's most important political and economic events of the year? President Xi Jinping's remarks made at various top meetings over the past three months or so offer the clearest picture of what will top the agenda.

From the Central Economic Work Conference held in mid-December 2022 to the consultative meeting held by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Tuesday, Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has repeatedly stressed the importance of boosting economic development, accelerating the establishment of a new development pattern and advancing Chinese modernization. 

In his remarks, Xi also addressed major issues for the country's economic work and called for various policy measures and reforms to ensure long-term, high-quality development. 

In line with the top leader's focus, tackling various major issues facing the Chinese economy and ensuring both development and security through various policies and reforms will be key for this year's two sessions, according to national lawmakers and political advisors, economists and multinationals. 

The 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body, will start its first session on Saturday, and the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), the national legislature, will open its first annual session on Sunday. They are collectively known as the two sessions, during which Chinese officials and representatives of Chinese people of all walks of life usually set out economic and social development goals and plans to achieve them, among other tasks. 

Important task

One of the most closely watched items on the agenda for this year's two sessions are the election of leading officials at state institutions. 

Speaking at the consultative meeting on Tuesday, Xi said that the election of new leading officials of state institutions and the new leadership of the CPPCC National Committee is an important task of the 2023 edition of the two sessions, and is also an important issue that concerns the overall situation, according to Xinhua. 

Also, part of a plan for deepening the reform of the Party and state institutions, which was reviewed and adopted at the second plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee that concluded on Tuesday, will also be submitted to the first session of the 14th NPC for deliberation, Xinhua reported. 

In general, the reform of the Party and state institutions this time, highlighting key industries and fields, is more targeted and intensified, covering many areas and involving a wide range of interests, Xi said. It focuses on resolving challenging issues that are of great significance and of great concern to society, and will have an important impact on economic and social development, the President said, according to Xinhua.

As Xi has repeatedly stressed in various meetings, development remains the top priority for the CPC and will remain at the top of the agenda for this year's two sessions. 

During the Central Economic Work Conference held in December, Xi reiterated that development should continue to be the CPC's top priority in governing and rejuvenating China. At the meeting, which had set economic policy priorities for 2023, Xi also addressed major issues pertaining to the country's current economic work.

Xi pointed out that the economic work for 2023 is complicated, and it is necessary to bear in mind the overall strategic picture, focus on major problems and start with improving public expectations and boosting confidence in development, according to Xinhua. 

Xi stressed efforts in five areas: expanding domestic demand, building a modern industrial system, deepening reforms of state-owned enterprises and improving the development environment for the private sector, increasing foreign investment, and preventing and defusing major economic and financial risks.  

The calls made at the Central Economic Work Conference "have made DSM full of confidence in the long-term, high-quality development of the Chinese market and offered strong impetus for DSM's long-term development in China," Zhou Tao, president of DSM China, told the Global Times. 

DSM is a Netherlands-based multinational in the health, nutrition and bioscience fields.

The two sessions offer a crucial window for multinationals and the world to grasp the top policy priorities in the world's second-largest economy, a bright spot in a grim global economic outlook this year.   

Zhou said that restoring and expanding consumption, promoting high-level  opening-up to the outside world, and promoting low-carbon industrial transformation will also become hot topics at this year's two sessions.

"Looking forward to 2023, which has already started, development is still the top priority," Zhang Xiaoyu, CEO of AIA Life Insurance, told the Global Times. He added that a series of major measures in the areas of expanding opening-up, supporting foreign businesses, and promoting stable, sound economic operations have lifted confidence. 

Boosting confidence 

Given the top Chinese leadership's emphasis on lifting expectations and boosting confidence, higher economic goals and greater policy efforts are widely expected at this year's two sessions. 

"One of the most closely watched items is how China will set its growth target and relevant policies," Guan Tao, global chief economist at BOC International under Bank of China, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that a "more active tone" is expected this year given the fast economic recovery so far in 2023. 

GDP growth targets and other economic goals will be included in the Government Work Report, which will be delivered at the opening of this year's session of the National People's Congres, but many have been speculating about a higher GDP growth target this year. Reuters, for example, reported that China may aim for up to 6 percent in growth in 2023. Meanwhile, some Chinese economists expect a target of above 5 percent, noting that while growth is expected to pick up, officials may also leave some room to tackle external risks and other issues amid global turbulence. 

In addition to boosting growth, China's top leadership has also been stressing the need to prevent and defuse financial risks and bolster China's technological self-reliance and strength, amid growing external risks, particularly from the US' relentless push for a so-called economic and technological decoupling.

Tackling the foreign "stranglehold" on certain technologies will also become a top topic at the two sessions, with some NPC deputies and CPPCC national committee members making related suggestions and proposals. For example, Zhong Zheng, an NPC deputy and CFO at Midea Group, suggested ways to solve the "stranglehold" issue in core components of industrial robots, according to her suggestions shared with the Global Times.

Also, in the face of a global economic downturn and turbulent geo-economic situation, another key task for this year's two sessions is conveying confidence to the market through supportive measures in areas such as foreign investment and the private sector, some NPC deputies and CPPCC national committee members said.