FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

China in the Age of Trump and Brexit

Beijing.

The harsh winter has passed, the sky is blue, spring is in the air and the store that sells fake DVDs in Beijing is closed. The two sessions is about to start. Beijing goes political and is being spruced up (stores selling fake goods are shut down) from Friday (March 3) for the next two weeks or so as the delegates and deputies of the CPPPCC and the NPC gather for their annual meetings.

The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body drawn from delegates representing a cross-section of society, including the arts, medicine, transport, construction, and the National People’s Congress, the top legislative body, gather to discuss and pass legislation for the coming year.

The two sessions, as they are colloquially known in China, gauge the political mood of the country outside Beijing’s “Beltway” the Fourth Ring Road. This is a one-party state and decisions take place behind tightly locked closed doors. But the two sessions is where many of those decisions will be made with about 3,000 provincial administrators, top businessmen and Chinese Communist Party bigwigs set to attend.

For the duration, smartly dressed delegates and deputies from across the country will pose for photographs on Beijing’s streets.  Ultimate political authority, of course, rests with the Chinese Communist Party, whose Politburo Standing Committee, headed by President Xi Jinping, sets policy. So the NPC’s influence is limited but it has an important input into the decision-making process.

While the deputies to the Congress will sit politely, row-upon-row in the Great Hall of the People, their presence in Beijing allows for forthright discussions on the economy, anti-pollution efforts, and international affairs. In public the NPC, with its bowing heads and demure clapping, may make a rubber stamp look energized but in the tea houses, and restaurants around Tiananmen Square, the issues of the day will be debated long into the night.

Premier Li Keqiang’s “work report,” which is delivered on the opening day of the NPC, will be the headline event, especially as it will forecast China economic growth for the year, presumed to be around 6-7 percent.

China’s official economic statistics are generally considered to be less than fully accurate, but the numbers are expected to give a sense of how dramatically officials expect growth to decline from the glory days of double-digit expansion.

At the end of the session, the premier’s closing news conference sometimes reveals insights into the leadership’s thinking, either by what he says or does not say.

The backdrop to this year’s two sessions is intriguing. At the end of the year, many of the seven members of the standing committee of the politburo will be replaced as Xi starts his second five-year term and is able to place his own men (they will be men) into the top positions. The sessions could give an indication as to what the priorities of the new leadership, for the next five years, will be.

On top of this the Trump presidency, with all its uncertainties, may, the feeling in Beijing goes, provide China with opportunities, or at least more leeway. According to this viewpoint the new administration in Washington, will not pay too much heed to human rights and view relations with China in a more pragmatic vein. In other words, it will be good for business.

The same goes for Europe, already dealing with Brexit, and possibly facing a National Front victory in France that would shake it to its foundations. Beijing senses greater opportunities here.

The feeling in Beijing is that anything that weakens its rivals is bound to make China stronger. That old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times’’ has a certain resonance these days.

More articles by:

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail