The sky has been cleared and security tightened across Beijing as the city prepares to host the choreographed annual session of its rubber-stamp Parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), from Sunday.
Ahead of that, on Friday, the yearly session of the top advisory body, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), will be inaugurated.
Together, they are known as the “Two Sessions” or “Liang Hui” in Chinese, and more than 5,000 NPC deputies and CPPCC members have begun arriving in Beijing to attend the sessions.
It’s almost customary for Beijing’s pollution to clear up in the lead-up to and during the two sessions, which last for about two weeks.
As part of the annual routine, Chinese state media has gone into overdrive in its coverage of the meetings despite the fact that very little emerges about the actual decision-making by the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
“Much of the focus during the March sessions will centre on the economic front, as in previous years, with a government work report to be delivered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to confirm the country’s growth targets for the year,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Li will signal the end of the two sessions with an annual news conference, where questions are usually vetted by the government.
Though Li will deliver the government’s annual work report on Sunday - providing growth figures and sectoral outlays including the defence budget - the focus will be on the increasingly powerful President Xi Jinping.
“The two sessions are also the first high-profile national political events held since President Xi Jinping was endorsed as the core of the CPC Central Committee at a key CPC meeting last October,” state media reported. “Pledges to conform to the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core are expected to feature significantly.”
It will be Xi’s thoughts that will echo inside the walls of the Great Hall of the People, where most of the meetings including the NPC inauguration will take place.
“Over the past four years, Xi's governance thoughts have been guiding China's development. The book ‘Xi Jinping: The Governance of China’, a collection of his speeches, provides insight into his concepts, resolve and wisdom of governance. More than six million copies have been distributed worldwide,” Xinhua reported.
“The CPC needs a strong core of leadership. Otherwise, it will have no cohesiveness or competence to lead all manners of undertakings. The endorsement of Xi as the core has come naturally with the backing of the entire party and the people,” said Xin Ming, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.