Delayed Two Sessions: Four major themes to expect
Updated 22:27, 21-May-2020
Robert Lawrence Kuhn

Editor's note: Robert Lawrence Kuhn is a public intellectual and international corporate strategist. He won the China Reform Friendship Medal in 2018. The article represents the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

What will happen at this year's Two Sessions (两会) political meetings for the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) previously postponed from early March because of the coronavirus pandemic?

One does not need to be a political insider to forecast at least four major themes: enforcing strict safety measures to keep participants safe; stressing short-term policies to support the economy; reinforcing the long-term strategic vision of rejuvenating the nation; and continuing to improve the healthcare system.

First, this will be a very different Two Sessions. I have attended for the last five years, but this time, I couldn't go because of the pandemic in the U.S. and China's restriction on foreigners. 

The number of journalists is greatly reduced, from around 3,000 to just a few hundred. Moreover, all reporters, Chinese and foreign, must be already in Beijing. Some will be invited to conduct interviews at the Great Hall of the People, although most will be conducted electronically with delegates at their residences.

A pre-Two Sessions communication stressed upholding the spirit of openness and transparency. Press spokesmen will release important information in a timely manner. The Two Sessions will be shorter than usual, one week instead of two, and social distancing will be enforced.

In addition to protecting delegates, officials, workers, these measures send a message to the country – to remain alert and prevent new outbreaks.  

Second, policies to kick start the economy and guard against financial risk will be discussed. How open will debates over policies be? For example, the kinds and amounts of stimulus packages, infrastructure versus target subsidies (like alternative energy and new energy vehicles), and the division of control between central and local government – especially the legal capacity of provinces to raise funds for infrastructure projects.

Third, a re-commitment to achieve China's two centenary goals – this year, the "moderately prosperous society" (as next year is the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China), and by mid-century, the full modernization and great rejuvenation of the nation, the Chinese Dream (2049 is the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic of China).

These goals stress, for this year's "moderately prosperous society," an intense focus on China's targeted poverty alleviation campaign, which intends, according to plan, to eliminate all extreme poverty in the country.

I expect to hear the recent Party slogan, "Don't forget your original aspirations; firmly remember your mission." 

And fourth, a commitment to continue to upgrade the nation's healthcare system, not only with respect to identifying and containing potential epidemics rapidly, but also to provide quality healthcare to all citizens, especially those in rural areas.

With respect to epidemics, China says it will improve its systems of information collection and feedback, error correction and decision-making. Although foreign media will be watching the Two Session to assess China's engagement with the world, officials and delegates will be almost entirely focused on domestic issues – as well as they should.

The better China takes care of itself and its own economy, the better China can contribute to the world.

Shooting director: Morgan Campagnon

Video editor: Liu Yuqing

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