Economy the Focus as Chinese Legislatures Convene

This weekend marks the opening of the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The New York Times reports that a consensus has not yet emerged about the future of China’s economy, which will be an important topic at the meetings:

The two annual meetings will mark the unveiling of China’s latest five-year plan, which calls for a shift away from an economy based on exports and massive public works to one powered by consumer spending.

Foreign economists and political leaders say the change will be a critical part of the effort to rebalance global trade. In China, it is seen as crucial to sustaining the country’s economic growth and the party’s unchallenged rule.

The uncertainty is whether the leadership can pull it off. The last five-year plan, issued in 2006, also proposed measures to boost incomes in an effort to restructure the economy.

In the end, however, exports and public projects revved up the economy, and the gross domestic product was 10.3 percent higher in 2010 than in 2009, well above the government’s target. Meanwhile, consumer spending’s share of the G.D.P. plummeted almost 10 percentage points from 2000 to 2009, to 35.6 percent — roughly two-thirds the level in many Asian nations, and half of that in the United States.

Other proposals to be decided on at the meetings include an adjustment in personal income tax; improving food safety, and delaying women’s retirement age. One proposal that is certain not be be discussed is a call, issued every year by the Tiananmen Mothers, to launch an investigation into the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.


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