National People’s Congress convenes as China reckons with major economic setbacks

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Tight information astir Tiananmen Square

Janis Mackey Frayer

The Great Hall of nan People sits astatine nan occidental separator of Tiananmen Square, wherever information is ever tight. During large governmental sessions for illustration nan National People’s Congress it goes into overdrive, pinch thousands of constabulary officers, soldiers and specialized information for illustration canine units. Typically nan quadrate is searched and scoured earlier anyone is allowed to participate it — including a thorough sniffing of nan flower beds.

In astonishment move, Chinese premier won't look reporters

Janis Mackey Frayer

On nan eve of nan opening of nan National People's Congress, Chinese officials made a astonishment announcement: Premier Li Qiang, China's No. 2 charismatic aft President Xi Jinping, will not beryllium holding a news convention astatine nan extremity of this year's legislative convention -- aliases astatine immoderate of them during his term, which runs until 2028. It marks nan extremity of a 30-year tradition.

For decades, nan premier's televised news convention was 1 of nan fewer chances for anyone — including journalists for illustration maine who are based present — to spot nan country's No. 2 charismatic supply penetration into Chinese Communist Party reasoning and publically discussing China's affairs.

Scrapping it is different reversal of nan reforms and "opening up" that began present successful nan precocious 1970s and makes an opaque governmental strategy moreover much of a achromatic box. It will beryllium harder for overseas policymakers and businesses to get clear signals from China's activity connected plans.

It is besides apt to frustrate investors that astatine a clip erstwhile China's system is losing steam, nan country's apical economical charismatic won't beryllium talking astir it.

Inside nan Great Hall of nan People

Janis Mackey Frayer

I person covered Chinese governmental events and meetings wrong nan Great Hall of nan People since Xi Jinping first came to powerfulness successful 2012. I admit — to me, being wrong nan the building ever feels a spot for illustration being connected a monolithic 1.85-million-square-foot movie set.

The Great Hall of nan People opened successful September 1959, and successful galore ways nan decor hasn't really changed. There are towering marble pillars, heavy reddish carpets and curtained hallways, and sprawling paintings of Chinese scenery. Security protocols person surely evolved complete nan years, pinch facial nickname machines that "read" your ID paper and airport-style scanners successful nan lobby.

The focal constituent is nan cavernous "Auditorium of Ten Thousand People." It's wherever decades of Communist Party pomp and pageantry person played retired nether a immense reddish prima connected nan ceiling adorned pinch lights. Up to 500 of nan highest-ranking statement members tin beryllium connected nan raised dais. During large governmental events, everything wrong nan auditorium is tightly choreographed, including nan measurement beverage is served to officials.

There is simply a maze of different reception halls and convention rooms. For each your large meal needs, nan State Banquet Hall tin big 5,000 people, arsenic it did during Richard Nixon's historical 1972 sojourn to China.

What are nan ‘Two Sessions’?

Janis Mackey Frayer

The astir salient governmental arena of nan twelvemonth successful China is known arsenic liang hui, aliases nan “Two Sessions.” The yearly meetings of nan ruling Chinese Communist Party are typically held successful March (except successful 2020 erstwhile they were delayed until May by nan pandemic), astatine nan Great Hall of nan People adjacent Tiananmen Square.

The main arena is nan National People’s Congress, wherever nan Chinese premier delivers a reside (called nan “work report”) that lays retired nan government’s plans and schedule for nan year. There is besides a “consultative session” nan time before, though decisions person been mostly predetermined. Chinese President Xi Jinping chairs some sessions but does not springiness an reside astatine either of them.

About 3,000 delegates travel to Beijing from crossed China — galore of them be nan sessions wearing accepted dress aliases subject uniforms. This year’s NPC is apt to upwind down connected March 11 pinch soul votes connected reports and a closing ceremony.