BEIJING • China's annual parliamentary meetings, known as lianghui, or Two Sessions, kicked off yesterday, with 5,000 lawmakers and advisers gathering at the Great Hall of the People to chart the course of the world's second-largest economy.
WHAT ARE THE MEETINGS FOR?
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, met yesterday, and its 2,000 representatives from various political parties and sectors of society began making proposals and policy suggestions to the government.
This year, delegates have submitted hundreds of proposals on public health security, such as establishing direct communication channels between the local and central authorities to be used in response to major public health emergencies.
The National People's Congress meeting, the more keenly watched of the two, will start its session today. About 3,000 officials from across China will review and endorse the government's work in the past year and the coming year, pass new legislation, approve the budget and ratify personnel changes.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?
The meetings are typically held in March. This year, they were postponed because of the Covid-19 outbreak. But the fact that they will now go ahead is a sign that China is confident it has the outbreak under control.
But the meetings will be shortened to a week from the customary 10 days.
Delegates going to Beijing from all provinces also have to adhere to strict anti-coronavirus measures, including safe distancing and quarantine.
Even diplomats invited to the opening ceremonies of both meetings have to take a nucleic acid test and be driven to the venue.
In addition, journalists have been forbidden to enter the Great Hall of the People and will be reporting from an off-site news centre.
WILL CHINA HAVE A GDP TARGET THIS YEAR?
Economists believe Beijing may not set a gross domestic product (GDP) target this year amid the uncertainty surrounding both the Chinese and global economies and fears of another wave of infections. It may set a target range instead, possibly between 2 per cent and 3 per cent, or no target at all.
WHAT ELSE IS ON THE AGENDA?
Reviving the economy and saving and creating jobs will be the key focus of this year's meetings. The government is expected to announce a sizeable stimulus plan aimed at boosting investment.
It could raise its fiscal deficit ratio past the longstanding red line of 3 per cent to possibly 4 per cent. It may also give more details on issuing special treasury bonds - a first since 2007 - to help prop up the economy.
As for legislation, Parliament will deliberate a draft civil code that will give better property rights protection.
Tan Dawn Wei