The official (and unofficial) reasons why China’s big shots are meeting in Beijing this week

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 10:54pm

China’s biggest political event of the year is upon us again as the country’s movers and shakers drop everything to gather in Beijing for the “Two Sessions”, which officially begins on Friday.

The annual plenary meetings of the nation’s top legislative and consultative bodies – the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – will be attended by about 5,000 political, economic and social leaders from across China.

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Why are these lawmakers and advisers meeting? We give you both the official and unofficial purposes for the big gathering.


To approve government budgets, adopt major laws and appoint key officials

The National People’s Congress session is largely ceremonial as the bulk of its law-making work has already been done by its standing committee throughout the year.

But the meeting grants outsiders insight into the direction China’s economy, as well as its political masters, are heading.

Over the next two weeks, the almost 3,000 deputies elected from across the country to the congress will perform their constitutional duties.

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These involve adopting major laws, appointing top officials including the nation’s ministers, and approving important documents such as the annual budget and the government’s work report. The deputies will hear reports including China’s growth forecast, its defence, central and local budgets, plus review plans for economic and social development.

To practise ‘socialist democracy’, with advisers voicing views and debating policies

As a display of democracy within a socialist system, members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference are invited to congress meetings to voice their opinions and present their proposals on important political, economic and social issues.

Consultative conference delegates do not have voting rights on these issues, but the meetings give them a rare opportunity to discuss and debate public policies that affect Chinese people’s daily lives.


Golden opportunity for junior politicians to meet – and impress – their top bosses

The “Two Sessions” offer provincial and lower-level officials the once-yearly chance to mingle with and leave an impression on their senior counterparts, who may one day help help their way up the political ladder.

Top leaders, such as the Communist Party’s Politburo members, will discuss and review the most important documents presented at the meetings.

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The seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee – including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang – will join the Two Sessions discussions. The Politburo Standing Committee is China’s highest decision-making body.

One-stop shop for lobbying

Businessmen seeking to advance their business interests, non-governmental organisations hoping to draw attention to their cause, delegates with a brilliant idea that just needs enough backers... the annual meetings are the perfect opportunity for these people to promote their ideas.

Proposals are put to congress if they garner enough support from NPC deputies and consultative conference members and the “Two Sessions” offers a stage to transform the ideas into reality.