Morning Clicks

Acerbic tweets and policy announcements among the highlights of NPC 2013

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 8:18am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 11:39am

At 9am today, China's 2013 parliamentary sessions kick off as Wen Jiabao presents his final work report as prime minister, ending with a Q&A session with reporters.

During his speech, Wen is expected to focus heavily on economic policy as he sets the stage for his successor Li Keqiang and incoming president Xi Jinping to take over.

Sixteen items are on the agenda for the National People's Congress (NPC) gathering, which wraps up March 17 with a speech from Li and a final Q&A.

The remainder of this week will be spent listening to work reports from the NPC standing committee, the Supreme People's Court and Procuratorate, and passing a new budget and policy direction for the coming year.

Over the weekend, delegates will appoint new heads of banks, courts and other government ministries and bodies. Plans to restructure some central government ministries will also be heard.

Tuesday, March 12, delegates get to relax, and the final stretch of rubberstamping through a long list of various political appointments continues through to March 16.

Yesterday, foreign media got to have a little fun as they sat through a Q&A with NPC spokesperson Fu Ying, who revealed remarkably little and broke from tradition by declining to reveal the latest defence budget. Check out some of their tweets below.

Some Chinese finance reporters apparently found it more interesting outside the Great Hall of the People.

Also check out this BBC roundup of SCMP and Chinese media NPC coverage leading up to today.

In comparison to last year's sessions, when Wen Jiabao addressed a dire need for political reforms this time last year, remarks made yesterday by NPC spokeswoman Fu Ying suggest that probably is no longer on the agenda, something lawyers and activists might have noticed in recent weeks as authorities put them under lockdown.

"It is inaccurate and unfair to say that China's style of political reform is not political reform whenever it does not follow in the footsteps of other countries," said Fu, explaining that, in her visits to developed countries with problems more complex than China's, officials are largely spared public calls for reform.

"In fact, the problems they are facing are more difficult in some cases, and yet no one is asking them to change their political system," she said.

Not even a move to scrap re-education through labour?

“The reeducation-through-labor system, to a certain extent, makes citizens live in fear,” Dai Zhongchuan, a delegate and law professor, told a government-run news portal on Monday.

Many analysts, however, say such initiatives are unlikely to be embraced by China’s new leaders, any time soon.

As for the top-level personnel changes, the Wall Street Journal predicts Politburo standing committee member Zhang Gaoli will replace Li Keqiang as executive vice premier, joined by Wang Yang as a subordinate vice premier, and that Politburo member and Organisation Department head Li Yuanchao will replace Xi Jinping as vice president,