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Wang Yi on way out? All eyes on China parliament meet


China’s parliament, which begins with an annual meeting on Tuesday, may see some changes in various positions. While no changes are expected to the position of President Xi Jinping, personnel changes may be announced. According to some reports, the offices of the foreign minister and the defence minister were expected to undergo some of the most significant changes.

Ahead of the session, speculations were rife that Foreign Minister Wang Yi could be replaced, after his reappointment, replacing Qin Gang, was earlier believed to be temporary.

Reports said announcements on replacements were likely at this year’s National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp legislature.

A likely candidate for the Foreign Minister’s post is Liu Jianchao, a senior party cadre who has travelled extensively in recent months to participate in diplomatic meetings.

Former Foreign Minister Qin Gang and former Defence Minister Li Shangfu were removed without explanation from their positions last year.

Moreover, Qin has not been seen in public since June, leading to rumours about his fate. Last week Qin was removed as an NPC delegate, concluding his eradication from the levers of China’s government.

At the Defence Department, Li was recently removed from the website of the CCP’s central military commission.

The demotions of both Qin and Li had left vacancies in China’s cabinet.


China’s parliament is expected to unveil moderate stimulus plans to stabilise growth at an annual meeting beginning on Tuesday but may disappoint those calling for a detailed roadmap of bold policies to fix the country’s deep structural imbalances.

Premier Li Qiang will lay out economic targets for this year and deliver his first work report to the NPC.

A property crisis, deepening deflation, a stock market rout, and mounting local government debt woes are putting enormous pressure on China’s leaders to take momentous policy decisions that will put the economy on solid footing for the long term. However, analysts and policy advisers expect the NPC agenda to focus more on near-term support for the sputtering economy after a post-pandemic rebound quickly floundered.

Li may nod to measures to improve the business environment and changes to promote technological innovation, but is unlikely to roll out big reforms that would need the Chinese Communist Party’s green light, news agency Reuters reported.

Further, Li is expected to set a growth target of around 5 per cent for 2024 — the same as last year — to keep China on a path towards President Xi Jinping’s goal of roughly doubling the economy by 2035 and achieving “Chinese-style modernisation.”

China is expected to set a budget deficit target of 3 per cent of economic output, but, crucially, announce plans for issuing 1 trillion yuan ($139 billion) in off-budget special sovereign bonds that could be used for funding strategically important sectors such as food and energy.

Published By:

Vani Mehrotra

Published On:

Mar 2, 2024


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