China’s 2016 political season kicks off in first meeting of top advisory body


Photo: Xinhua.

China’s annual political season began Thursday as the country’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, convened in Beijing. China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress, will meet just two days later. The meetings of both bodies are known as the “two sessions”.

CCTV’s Tang Bo reports from Beijing:

The two-week long sessions of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, or CPPCC, will see political advisers from all across the country discussing major political, economic and social issues.

During the opening ceremony attended by state leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, the Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee Yu Zhengsheng, delivered a work report at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

More than 2,000 advisers were gathered.

Yu praised the efforts of the 2015 CPPCC. Last year, the advisory body focused primarily on economic development, pushing for the implementation of major policies and deepening reforms.

He also highlighted major issues discussed in 2015, including reform of government’s review and approval system, and judicial structural reform. The session also included a developing a number of draft legislation and regulations, including the environmental protection tax law and the marine environmental protection law, he said.

For the 2016 session, Yu said the body would work on China’s 13th Five-Year Plan which will be implemented this year. Other priorities for this session will be supply-side structural reform and cutting overcapacity and excess inventory, Yu added.

There will also be more effective democratic oversight in 2016, Yu added. Such oversight would include examining urban planning improvements, development of the food safety regulatory system, management of nature reserves, control of air pollution, and construction of handicapped-accessible facilities.

China will also hold activities to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, and promote and study his patriotic principles.

He also called on political advisers to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China, which is “the leading core of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and of the patriotic united front.”

Story by CCTV News.

How CPPCC advisers contribute to legislation

China has eight political parties in addition to the Communist Party. But unlike Western systems, they are not opposition parties that try to win elections. Instead, they play a consulting role to the Communist leadership.

CCTV’s Han Peng reports.

He cannot cast a vote in the National People’s Congress, nor can his proposals become legally binding, but as a CPPCC member, Liu Muren believes his work in the top political advisory body can change China slowly but surely.

Liu is a university president in one of China’s poorest regions, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where one out of every 9 people live below the poverty line. Most of the region’s 5 million impoverished live in mountainous rural areas.

Liu said he spent years in the field working on a proposal that he plans to present at CPPCC meetings in the coming days.

A proposal he made last year on improving rural residents’ property rights triggered major public debate, and has now become part of a nationwide Chinese policy.

Unlike motions from National People’s Congress legislators, Liu’s proposals in the CPPCC are not legally binding and only serve to advise the Communist Party.

But Liu said their “soft” check on government is a necessary complement to the lawmakers’ “hard” check.

Liu said he hopes the advisory body plays a bigger role in government, particularly in supervision.

Through proposal after proposal, the advisers hope to set the wheels of change in motion in China, he added.

China expert Cheng Li of Brookings on CPPCC agenda

CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed China politics expert Cheng Li, director of the John Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution about the CPPCC meetings and agendas.