03/04/2023, 10.29
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Video of outgoing premier Li Keqiang's farewell tour censored on the web

Tomorrow at the National People's Congress his last official act as the regime's number two. Subtle attack on Xi Jinping: China's economy still needs 'reforms'. However, greater centralisation of power in favour of Xi and the Communist Party is expected.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - State censors have blocked several videos filming the farewell tour of outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, soon to be replaced by Li Qiang, an ally of President Xi Jinping.

Tomorrow, the now former number two of the Chinese Communist Party will deliver his last speech on government business at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

Together with the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which opened today, the NPC is called upon to formalise decisions already made by President Xi Jinping and the Party leadership.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, images circulated online show Li being greeted by crowds of officials from various ministries: a sign that he still enjoys an excellent reputation in the CCP, despite his imminent retirement.

In a video filmed at the National Reform and Development Commission, Li then emphasises that China still needs economic reform (in other words: liberalisation). The statement appears to be a subtle attack on Xi, who in his 10 years in power has tried hard to marginalise him.

Li is an exponent of the Communist Youth, one of the few still structured factions of the CPC, which came out of last October's Congress defeated.

The NPC's annual meeting will mark the start of Xi's third term in power, as he will lead a Politburo Standing Committee composed only of loyal collaborators. The Chinese 'Parliament' will approve (without debate) the appointments to government posts decided by the Party leadership.

A reform of the ministries is expected, which will most likely see a further centralisation of decision-making in favour of Xi and the CCP.

However, the main focus will be on economic decisions. Due to Xi's zero-Covid policy, the effects of the Russian-Ukrainian war and reduced global demand, China's GDP grew by 3% last year: one of the lowest levels in 50 years. The Chinese president is called upon to revive the national economy. Analysts note that the government may set a 6% growth target for this year.

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