SINGAPORE: China’s “two sessions” meetings wrapped up on Monday (Mar 13) following a number of major announcements and the confirmation of several key appointments over the course of 10 days.
The two sessions – the meetings of China’s parliament and political advisory body – kicked off on Mar 4 and are the biggest events on the country’s political calendar.
CNA spoke to three experts about the main talking points at this year’s meetings.
XI JINPING’S THIRD TERM
While President Xi Jinping had already secured another five-year term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at a major congress last October, a largely ceremonial vote on Mar 10 made the extension of his presidency official.
The declaration of 69-year-old Xi as China’s president for a historic third term sealed his place as the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
Nearly 3,000 members of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), voted unanimously in the Great Hall of the People for Xi to be president in an election where there was no other candidate.
He also received unanimous votes for a third term as chairman of the country’s Central Military Commission.
What can China, the United States and the rest of the world expect during this term?
“Current indications are that Xi’s third term will likely involve the further concentration of authority under the party,” said Associate Professor Chong Ja Ian from the Department of Political Science at the National University of Singapore.
Businesses and organs of state are likely to see even more party oversight, he added.
“Outwardly, Xi is likely to face the US challenge robustly. This means contesting for influence globally and putting pressure on Taiwan – as well as US allies – regionally.”
Assistant Professor Benjamin Ho, coordinator of the China Programme at Nanyang Technological University’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, also sees challenging foreign relations taking centre stage during Xi’s third term.
“Xi will encounter a more hostile world – particularly in the West – towards China,” he said.
“He would have to find ways to repair some of the broken bridges with countries while at the same time shoring up support towards himself and the party back home.”
Professor Henry Gao from the Singapore Management University’s Yong Pung How School of Law expects to see further crackdowns in the financial sector, and more efforts to upgrade China’s technology development and reduce reliance on foreign technology.
He also pointed to the restructuring of the central government as a significant development from the meetings.
“By taking away powers from the State Council, the power of the CCP is further enhanced and this would have major implications for China’s governance for many years to come,” he said.
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