Asia Minute: China Starts Key Political Meetings

Mar 4, 2021

Hawaii's state legislature gets back into session today following a five-day recess. A different sort of legislative gathering starts today in China. These meetings take place each year, but this year is being watched closely both inside and outside the country.

China’s biggest political gatherings of the year are often called “the two sessions.”

The National People’s Congress serves as the national legislature — nearly 3,000 members, virtually no debate.

The other group is the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a little more than 2,000 members — unelected “advisers” — largely from outside politics. They range from former chief executives of Hong Kong to actor Jackie Chan and former NBA star Yao Ming. Not everyone is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, but many are.

The focus is on the topics that come up. Last year’s session passed the national security law in Hong Kong that has led to the arrests of activists.

Many are watching this year to see if other revisions are coming to governance of Hong Kong.

It’s also time for another five-year plan, China’s practice of laying out priorities by the half-decade.

Relations with the United States are at a delicate stage, the economy is always a focus — this year facing challenges from an aging demographic to uneven regional growth.

Whatever is discussed in the next 10 days, there’s no question where China’s real power continues to reside. Several years ago, it was this political gathering that removed term limits for President Xi Jinping.