Leader's speeches point way to 'great dream of revitalizing nation'
Having made headlines at the Davos World Economic Forum with his vigorous defense of globalization, President Xi Jinping is expected to take the spotlight in another gathering with global influence: the two sessions in Beijing. The fifth session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the fifth session of the 12th National People's Congress, will open on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
The annual sessions of the top legislature and top political advisory body are among the most important political events for the world's second-largest economy.
The NPC is the highest body of state power, enabling the Chinese people to exercise their power as "the master of state." New state leaders will be elected at the NPC session in March 2018 after the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress elects new Party leadership later this year.
It was at the first session of the 12th NPC in March 2013 that Xi was elected president. He had been elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in November of the previous year at the 18th CPC National Congress.
This year's two sessions are the first since Xi was endorsed as the core of the CPC Central Committee in October.
"Through the meetings, greater consensus will be gathered to build a moderately prosperous society and Xi's thoughts on state governance will be more clear-cut," said Xin Ming, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
Over the past four years, Xi's thoughts on governance have guided China's development. The book Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, a collection of his speeches, provides insight into his concepts, resolve and wisdom of governance.
Officials at all levels should align their thinking with Xi's strategic blueprint, the Four Comprehensives, which is a four-pronged strategy to achieve a moderately prosperous society, deepen reform, advance the rule of law and govern the Party strictly.
For China, the strategy creates routes to build a socialist modern country.
For observers, Xi's speeches and policy initiatives at the two sessions will send important signals about how China will march toward what Xi called the "great dream of revitalizing the Chinese nation."
Xi's thoughts on governance, ranging from economic and social reform to foreign affairs and military transformation, have been greatly influencing the country's course.
In the economic sphere, Xi has led the country to achieve remarkable growth. The country remains the top engine of global growth, with the International Monetary Fund predicting China's contribution would account for 39 percent of the world's economic expansion in 2016.
Xi has called the current phase of growth the "new normal," as China shifts to a more sustainable development and distributes the benefits more evenly.
To ensure this crucial rebalancing is successful, Xi advocates "a new political economy," which draws on and develops Marxist thought.
Supply-side structural reform is key to understanding the new political economy and China's future development. Fundamentally different from the "supply-side economics" in the West, which focus on tax cuts, China's supply-side structural reform involves a set of measures including dissolving overcapacity and developing the real economy.
Xi has led the country as it rolls out reforms across all sectors that advance state governance, such as consultative democracy and rule of law.
The reform-minded president also heads leading groups and commissions covering key areas including finance and economic affairs, national security, internet security and informatization, as well as military and civilian integration. The mechanism is believed to help strengthen centralized and unified leadership of the Party in State governance.
Xi stresses placing power into an institutional cage. The decision to establish the national supervision commission to place the use of power under close supervision exemplifies this model.
To build a clean and advanced ruling party, Xi has carried out a sweeping campaign against corruption, which he warned could lead to the collapse of the Party and the downfall of the State. Since Xi took the helm of the Party, the anti-corruption fight has gained "crushing momentum" and earned popular support by netting at least 240 centrally administered officials and more than 1 million low level officials for violating CPC and government rules.
Safeguarding Xi's core status is "a political issue of the utmost importance," said senior local officials at the recently concluded sessions of legislative and political advisory bodies in China's 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
Xi and his comrades must take steps to ensure China escapes the "middle-income trap"－which few developing countries have managed to avoid－and continues to open up to fuel global growth.
In his New Year speech, Xi called on the nation to "roll up our sleeves and work harder."
Before the two sessions, Xi visited Hebei province and said that poverty alleviation was fundamental to building a moderately prosperous society.
During the 2013-16 period, 55 million people have shaken off poverty－more than the population of South Korea. China plans to eliminate poverty by 2020.
During an inspection of Beijing, Xi stressed building a people-oriented city by addressing problems of overpopulation, traffic congestion, soaring house prices and air pollution.
He also highlighted the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, an ambitious project to link more than 100 million people to become an important engine for the country's economic growth. Huge progress has been made in transportation, industry and the environment in the past three years.
At a workshop in February that was attended by officials at the provincial and ministerial levels, Xi urged them to "choose the heaviest burden and crack the hardest nuts" when pursuing economic and social development.