CounterPunch supports the Floyd Rebellion and Black Lives Matter.
Please consider supporting an organization working on police accountability, additional resources on the movement and how you can get involved can be found here.

FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

China’s Two Sessions During Coronavirus

Beijing.

Even though it’s being held on its home turf, Beijing will play second fiddle for the next week as thousands of delegates pour into the capital to debate, argue and socialize amid the “Two Sessions”.

The sessions, taking place after being postponed in March due to COVID-19, are 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.

In reality, the NPC is an exercise in public relations, a supreme example of rubber-stamping. Nothing of any merit will be discussed openly. TV coverage will highlight the mass, synchronized applause of the 2,975 delegates, led by the People’s Liberation Army with the most delegates at 294, followed not by Beijing, or Shanghai but Shandong, the most populous province, with 173 delegates.

Obviously, the COVID-19 outbreak will be presented as a challenge that China met successfully. The catastrophic initial mistakes, the denials, the harassment of doctors trying to publicize its danger, the mass gathering in January that saw tens of thousands of people openly celebrate Chinese New Year in a huge square, will not be mentioned. But neither will there be a sense of triumphalism. The virus remains a concern and seems, at the moment, to be under control but everyone knows it is far too early to declare absolute victory.

The importance of the “Two Sessions” is that it allows leaders of the provincial parties to come to Beijing and discuss, privately, their concerns. China is a one-party state. 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 deputies to the congress will sit politely, row-upon-row in the Great Hall of the People and choreograph their applause. But in the corridors of power, restaurants and hotel lobbies, there will be forthright discussions on the faltering economy, anti-pollution efforts, international affairs, the Trump presidency and how to recalibrate China’s damaged position in the world.

But one other subject will be raised that makes this Two Sessions intriguing for the outside world is that for the first time since Mao passed away in 1976 China does not expect tomorrow to be better than today.  The social contract, the implicit unwritten understanding between the party and the people – acceptance of the party’s political primacy  in exchange for growing prosperity – is at risk of unraveling.

Most people in China believe that for this contract to be maintained economic growth would have to be in the region of 5-6 percent minimum per year. No one believes it is anywhere near that today. Even before COVID-19 it was probably around 5 percent. After the outbreak it is much less, probably around 2 percent. Unforeseen circumstances. Sure. But unforeseen circumstances can have unforeseen consequences.   Beijing cannot turn on the export taps as it did before to get out of trouble because its major overseas markets are also on their knees. And China as a brand has been damaged. Long after this crisis is over there will be a residue of mistrust for things China.  Even before COVID-19 there was a growing sense in the West that China, ironically a communist country once considered just a few years ago as the savior of Western capitalism, could not be trusted.  Now there is almost unanimous certainty that it is beyond the pale. Frustration in Beijing at growing international isolation and a restive population demanding better living standards could prove to be a potent mix.

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
June 05, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jacob F. Lee – Matthew E. Stanley
Direct Action and the Rejection of Monumental History
Louis Proyect
Reflections on My COVID-19 Immunity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mad Bull, Lost Its Way
Stanley L. Cohen
Everywhere is War
Louis Yako
America Has Always Been Burning with Racism: Who is the Enemy?
Jefferson Morley
Showdown on 16th Street
Eve Ottenberg
Killing Workers (and Customers) – With No Liability
Peter Linebaugh
Say Their Names!
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War on Democracy
Paul Street
Dear History Students
Lola Allen
How Has Bolivia’s de Facto Regime Taken Advantage of COVID-19 to Consolidate Its Power and Repress Political Rivals?
Jonathan Cook
As US protests Show, the Challenge is How to Rise Above the Violence Inherent in State Power
Alvaro Huerta
Police Abuse in America’s Barrios
Ron Jacobs
Generals Are Not the People’s Ally
Daniel Warner
Resilience
Ramzy Baroud
‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy’: Israel’s China Strategy in Peril
David Yearsley
Dam Nation and Woody Guthrie
Sam Husseini
The Barr Coup 
Richard C. Gross
Bunker Mentality
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
BlackRock is Bailing Out Its ETFs with Fed Money and Taxpayers Eating Losses; It’s Also the Sole Manager for $335 Billion of Federal Employees’ Retirement Funds
Marshall Auerback
The Battle Over Free Speech Online is a Volcano That’s Ready to Blow
David Rosen
Trump’s Election to Lose
Jack Rasmus
Confronting Institutional Racism
Joseph Natoli
Ubu Orange
Gary Olson
Jakarta: Force and Fraud at Home and Abroad. What’s Next?
Sister Karen M. Donahue
I’m Outraged by Trump’s Church Photo-Op
Jaelani Turner-Williams
Racism is a Public Health Crisis
Chuck Collins
As 42.6 Million Americans File for Unemployment, Billionaires Add Half a Trillion Dollars to Their Cumulative Wealth
Jill Richardson
It Doesn’t Matter Who Protested and Who “Rioted”
Richard Ward
A Matter of Focus
Colin Todhunter
Food and Agroecology: Coping with Future Shocks
Ariel Dorfman
Literature in Times of Turmoil
Russell Mokhiber
ICE Wants to Deport Marc Petitpierre to Switzerland
Liz Theoharis
Organizing the Rich or the Poor? Which America Will Be Ours After the Pandemic?
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Social Media Sucks for Reporting News
Denita Jones
Going Back to Work in a Pandemic
Tracey L. Rogers
A Tale of Two Americas
Paul Cantor
Thank You, Peaceful Protesters!
Susan Block
Sadistic Policing
Nicky Reid
Because Imperialists Rape: Anarcha-Feminism In the Ashes of the MeToo Era
Marilyn Bruya
Trump is the Looter to Worry About
Norman Solomon
Solidarity Includes Wearing a Mask at Protests
Kim C. Domenico
Misfit Redemption: Escape from the Cruelty of White Liberal Innocence
John Kendall Hawkins
The Coming Purge of Doppelgängers and the Palast Revolution
Stephen Cooper
America is Burning
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail