03/04/2019, 11.46
CHINA
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Party’s political and consultative session opens. Internal tensions

by Bernardo Cervellera

Yesterday, the  Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference began; tomorrow the National People’s Assembly opens. Population view it as "useless and boring". Economic growth, tariff war, fight against poverty, the conquest of space ... But two issues are not addressed: economic reforms and criticism of Xi Jinping.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Tomorrow, the National People’s Assembly (the NPA), the Chinese parliament, will gather in the Great Hall of the People. With the opening yesterday of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), it is the most intense political season of the Party and the government. The NPA should discuss problems, policies and laws to be implemented for society, but in the end it merely endorses what the Party Committee has already decided.

The CPPCC brings together all representatives of civil society (including religious ones) to offer advice to the NPC and the Party on how to improve its policies, but in reality it tends to subject civil society to Party decisions.

For at least two weeks, 2,000 representatives of the CPPCC and 3,000 MPs from the NPA are present in Beijing. The population is rather distant, partly because of the security measures surrounding the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, partly because it finds listening to debates about what has already been decided from above "useless and boring".

But this year it is likely that people will want to listen and see what happens and decide why the NPA gives an overview of the economic situation and the way in which the government will want to enhance it. Since last year, the Chinese economy has suffered a slowdown, partly due to a global crisis, partly due to the so-called "tariff war" between China and the United States, which is slowing exports and creating unemployment in many sectors.

At the press conference held today for the opening of the NPA, spokesman Zhang Yesui stressed the importance of dialogue between Beijing and Washington, to arrive at a positive solution for both sides.

The problem is that the Chinese economy needs reforms, requested by many, but from a leadership that does not want to change (review and downscaling of state industries, equal treatment of private and public sectors, foreign and local, etc. ..). According to several economists, the "tariff war" is used to "distract" the public from the actual problems of the Chinese economy.

Another problem that is not discussed in public are the internal tensions related to criticism of Xi Jinping, Party secretary, head of the military commission and reforms, president of the republic (for life).

In January, the Party Central Committee issued a document stating that the most urgent problem is the political construction of the Party, reaffirming its leadership in all aspects of the life of the nation and keeping Xi Jinping as the "heart" of leadership.

And Xi warned of "black swans and gray rhinos", that is, sudden problems and long-standing problems, which lobs tense relations with the United States together with internal dissatisfaction, undermined by the lack of freedom of expression, by control , by the scant help given to private industries.

Meanwhile, the political consultative session opened with strongly nationalistic tones, lauding  the great spatial successes of the country - with the conquest of the dark side of the moon and a probe on Mars for 2020 - and the confirmation of the modernization of the army, without however, revealing the overall military spending. By 2020, the government has also planned an end to poverty in China, although different numbers on the current poor are circulating: some say 16 million others more than 30 million.

But for the year 2019 the CPPCC has as its fundamental theme "the study and application of Xi Jinping's thinking on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era".

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