Standard Front Page 18 March 2019 What we can expect from China’s “Two Sessions” in 2019

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In early March 2019, China’s “Two sessions”, the second sessions of the 13th National People’s Congress and the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, started in Beijing. The annual Two Sessions have always been an important opportunity for the international community to observe where the world’s second largest economy is heading. This year’s “Two Sessions” also attracted worldwide attention.

The following are some key messages one should get from the “Two Sessions”:
Chinese economy has entered a new phase of transitioning from high-speed growth to high-quality development. Premier Li Keqiang delivered a government work report at the opening meeting of the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress. In his report, Premier Li Keqiang announced that China’s GDP grew by 6.6% in 2018, with the total volume exceeding 90 trillion yuan. The target for GDP growth in 2019 will be between 6% and 6.5%. Although the growth rate has slowed down, due to the considerable base, the actual GDP growth has exceeded the annual growth rate when China’s economy was growing at a double-digit rate more than a decade ago. Premier Li Keqiang stressed that China’s economy had shifted from a stage of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development. Coordinated efforts to promote high-quality development and ecological and environmental protection are urgently needed.

In order to sustain and boost economic growth, China will lower corporate burden enormously. Premier Li Keqiang announced in the government work report that, following colossal tax and fee cuts by around 1.3 trillion yuan (about 194 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, China would lower corporate burdens by nearly 2 trillion yuan this year. Such massive cuts show that China has responded with confidence to greater economic risks and challenges. The massive cuts to corporate burden, along with other policies and measures specified in the government work report, highlight such will and ability and will help ensure stable expectations, steady growth and structural adjustments. China is making its stance clear that it will never allow economic performance to slide out of the appropriate range, and meanwhile, the benefits from reform and development must be extensively shared.
A new law governing foreign investment in China will be passed during the “Two Sessions”. The draft Foreign Investment Law, being reviewed by the National People’s Congress, is a fundamental law for China’s foreign investment and innovative improvement of its foreign investment legal system. It will promote and protect foreign investment in China by creating a stable, transparent and predictable market environment for fair competition. It demonstrates China’s commitment to further deepening reform and pursuing high-level opening up. The draft law enhances the protection of intellectual property rights of foreign investors and prohibits forced technology transfers through administrative means. The Foreign Investment Law is a landmark law that will open China’s door wider to the outside world. It is another symbol of China’s deference to the rule of law in social and economic area.

Meanwhile, China will further push forward the Belt and Road international cooperation. The BRI, first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, follows the “golden rule” of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Belt and Road cooperation aims to be equal-footed, inclusive and beneficial to all. To date, a total of 123 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI agreements with China. A large number of BRI projects are well underway and adding needed momentum to the economic and social development of partner countries. BRI projects must be high-standard as well as results-oriented, high-quality as well as economically viable, beneficial to the world as well as to China. At a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing Two Sessions, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the initiative had become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation and the most welcomed global public good. The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will be held in Beijing in late April. It’s the most important diplomatic event China will host this year and an international gathering that will capture the world’s attention.

China-Africa friendship will remain unbreakable, and China’s promise of sincerity, real results, friendship and good faith will remain true. As Africa’s brother and partner, China will always attach particular importance to the needs and interests of African countries. Africa faces the twin challenges of maintaining peace and security and of promoting development and revitalization. At a press conference held during the “Two Sessions”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi informed the public that China-Africa cooperation continues to be a pace-setter for the rest of the world. After decades of diligent nurturing, the sapling of China-Africa cooperation has grown into a towering tree that no force can topple. Going forward, China will fully implement the eight major initiatives announced at last year’s FOCAC Beijing Summit and continuously deepen the BRI cooperation. Seizing these two opportunities, China and Africa can build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. China-Africa cooperation has always been open and inclusive. Africa’s development requires more input from the international community. The exemplary effect of China-Africa cooperation can be leveraged to encourage more countries to give greater attention, weight and input to Africa.

Since the resumption of the diplomatic ties three years ago, our bilateral cooperation has yielded a lot in a very short period of time. The Gambia adheres to one-China principle and China is ready to work with The Gambia to continue steering bilateral ties in the right direction, continuously enhance political mutual trust and support firmly each other on issues of core interests and major concerns. China supports the Gambian government’s efforts in achieving the goals of national development, and is willing to enhance pragmatic cooperation and expand exchanges in all areas. I am sure our brotherly ties will go from strength to strength.