China’s annual National People’s Congress, opens in the first week of March 2014, in the imposing Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, serves as a show of unity in the nation and the ruling party. The event opens with colourfully-clad delegates from China’s many ethnic minorities and military officers in dress uniform arriving at the hall, along with celebrities and movie stars as a associated guests. The session is scheduled to open Monday 3rd March at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In attendance, 1,355 out of 2,229 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) have registered at the secretariat of the session, said Lyu Xinhua, spokesman with the session, at a press conference. The secretariat has received a total of 990 proposals and 303 speech transcripts.
The event showcase will be the “work reports” with the most important to be read by Premier Li Keqiang. Many will be watching for China’s annual economic growth target for insight into the leadership’s thinking and the economy.
Other topics likely to be mentioned in the report are an ongoing and high-profile crackdown on official corruption, China’s multiple environmental problems including hazardous smog regularly enveloping major cities, economic reforms, and territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Steve Tsang, an expert in Chinese politics at Britain’s University of Nottingham, said, “The curbing of corruption means the capacity of the party to function is stronger,”.
Economic reforms were also flagged, including allowing the market to play a “decisive” role in the economy. In keeping with economic restraint, this year’s meeting will be be be “no frills” as part of the nationwide austerity drive initiated by President Xi Jinping. Instead of the expensive dinner menus filled with exotic and expensive dishes like shark fin and abalone, costing about 2,000 yuan,(roughly $325) a portion, many restaurants have quietly removed all expensive items from their menus and are now only serving “regular dishes.”
Previously, in the leadup to the event, local legislators and advisers would hold their own sessions in preparation prior to the conference, these meetings were subject to cutbacks and were stripped down this year. “For the welcome party, we saw home-style dinner buffets …. The year before it was so different. We had a band performing at the welcome dinner, this year they played recorded music, ” according to one delegate attending a provincial leadup conference. One campaign against wastefulness made waves on the popular microblog platform Chinese social media , Weibo when it was noted that some meetings limited the distribute water bottles.
Last year, “eight rules” against extravagance were introduced by President Xi’s to curb excess and the bans included souvenirs, reception ceremonies and gourmet meals.