apco two sessions report 2024

Key Takeaways from China’s 2024 Two Sessions

March 13, 2024

The annual gatherings of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body, took place in Beijing between March 4 and March 11. Known as the lianghui or “Two Sessions,” these gatherings bring together thousands of delegates to approve laws, work reports, budgets, and personnel appointments. They also feature press conferences and other forums for senior leaders to deliver public remarks.

One of the most important events each year is the delivery of the Government Work Report (GWR), which reviews progress over the past twelve months and sets targets and priorities for the year ahead. This year’s report was the first to be formally presented by Premier Li Qiang, who took office in 2023.

Key Takeaways from the Two Sessions

  1. The government signals confidence in China’s economy by setting an ambitious GDP target. China will aim for “around 5%” growth in 2024, the same as last year’s target. Despite the challenge of a higher base in 2023 compared to 2022, government officials have expressed confidence in achieving this year’s goal.
  2. China will strive to better balance security and economic development. The GWR emphasizes the importance of “ensuring both development and security” and calls for greater consistency between macro policies. At the same time, it identifies areas in which the government will strengthen security and “defuse risks.”
  3. A new term – “new productive forces” – underlines China’s ever-growing ambitions for technological innovation. First mentioned by President Xi Jinping in September 2023, the generation of “new productive forces” (NPFs) refers to the development of emerging and futuristic technologies into new growth drivers. Building on the successful models of China’s solar, battery, and electric vehicle (EV) industries, this strategy appears to be a significant new component of Beijing’s response to macroeconomic and geopolitical pressures.
  4. China doubles down on nurturing domestic talent to support its development priorities. While previous reports primarily approached education in the context of social development, this year’s GWR places more emphasis on strengthening the education system to cultivate talent and enhance the nation’s capacity for innovation.
  5. Boosting consumption remains a top priority, but the policy toolkit stays largely unchanged. Government statements placed a strong emphasis on expanding domestic demand in 2023, and this remained high on the agenda at the Two Sessions. However, key initiatives outlined – including a trade-in program for used goods and a focus on boosting services consumption – have featured in previous announcements.
  6. Energy security concerns weigh on near-term environmental goals, but green industry push continues. Demand for coal power remained high in 2023, and the GWR states that the fuel will play a “crucial role in ensuring energy supply” this year. However, green industrial development and the rapid expansion of wind and solar power will continue.

Read APCO’s analysis of the 2024 Two Sessions featuring a foreword by James McGregor below or click here to download a copy.

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