05/22/2020, 10.08
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NPC, the great uncertainty: no growth target, increase in military spending

by Wang Zhicheng

At the opening of the National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang makes many promises: support for the recovery; fight against unemployment; openness to foreign investments, "mutual benefit" projects in the "Belt and Road initiative". In the general crisis, the budget for the Armed Forces grows by 6.6%. Taiwan's independence struggle and national security law for Hong Kong.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - For the first time in the history of the National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese parliament, the government has not set any economic growth targets, due to the difficulties resulting from the pandemic. This was announced by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening of the annual NPC meeting this morning.

In the first quarter of this year, the Chinese giant recorded a negative growth of 6.8%. The prime minister promised a commitment from the leadership to support growth, the recovery of businesses and reabsorb unemployment, which threaten to undermine social stability.

On the other hand, Li Keqiang said that the army's budget will grow 6.6%. The increase is the lowest in the past 20 years. In total, since 1999, the budget of the Armed Forces has grown at least 12 times. Li defends this expenditure, claiming that it is below 2% of the total state budget, but international organizations such as the Sipri (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) claim that the official figures do not consider many other elements, such as operations in the islands of the South China Sea.

In his report on the work of the government, said the central government would “accurately” implement the “one country, two systems” and the principle of “the Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”.

It also said a sound legal system and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong special administrative region should be established by the NPC.

As for Taiwan, Li condemned separatist attempts to independence on the island, and renewed the commitment to peaceful reunification. Just in recent days, at the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen's second term, Beijing had threatened the use of force if the "rebel" island dared to move towards independence.

He also promised them to implement the trade agreement with the United States from next January, following President Trump's threats to put tariffs on countless Chinese export products. Li also said that China wants to work for a multilateral trading system and reforms of the world trade organization, and that it will push for a free trade agreement between China, Japan and South Korea.

He promised them to open up more space for foreign investment, guaranteeing equal treatment to Chinese and non-Chinese companies; he said his government will be busy tackling the unemployment crisis; he assured that the "Belt and road initiative" projects will continue with "mutual beneficial results". Many African countries, together with Pakistan and Sri Lanka have denounced Beijing for leading them into a "debt trap", promising them loans for gigantic infrastructure projects, which these countries cannot repay.

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