China Politics Update (British Embassy, Beijing) – October 2015

The proposal for the new Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) has been approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party at the Plenum held on 26–29 Oct. The Plan has been focused on realizing the objective of ‘comprehensively constructing a moderately prosperous society by the year 2020’. Innovation is put in a central position in national development. ‘…let innovation penetrate into all Party and state work, and let innovation become common practice in all of society.’ stated the Communiqué of the Plenum. China will also persist in ‘green development’ by reducing resource use and protecting the environment. All environmental protection agencies under provincial levels will conduct vertical management for air, water and soil protection. To achieve national development goals, the Central Committee has pledged to put forward the anti-corruption drive, establish systems and mechanisms so people don’t dare to be corrupt, cannot be corrupt and don’t want to be corrupt.

Major Visits

President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to the UK on 20-23 Oct, marking the first Chinese head of state to visit the country in a decade. At the state banquet, the Queen described Xi’s visit as a ‘defining moment’ in the future of Sino-UK relations as the Chinese leader spoke of the ‘everlasting friendship’ between the two countries. In a joint statement, David Cameron and Xi underlined the two nations’ ‘global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century’, which will usher in a lasting, open, win-win golden era. The two sides signed a wide range of deals, including nuclear, natural gas and cruise ship building, among others.

After Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK, German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to China on 29 and 30 Oct, marking her eighth visit to the country since she assumed office in 2005. In her meeting with Premier Li Keqiang, Merkel voiced support for a China-EU bilateral investment treaty, which would serve as a precursor to a China-EU free trade agreement. Security and strategic issues – from the Syria crisis to the South China Sea – also featured on the agenda. On 30th, Li and Merkel visited Hefei, capital of eastern China’s Anhui Province, Li’s home province. It is the first time that Li has invited a foreign leader to visit his home province.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima visited China from 25 to 29 Oct. The King and the President Xi agreed to boost cooperation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It is the King’s first state visit to China since he ascended the throne in 2013. He is leading a trade delegation to China with 250 business people from 150 Dutch companies. It is a reciprocal visit following Xi’s state visit to the Netherlands in 2014.

Political News

On 21 Oct, the Communist Party published a revision to two major inner-Party codes, in a bid to effectively manage its 86 million members across the country. The new rules have been regarded by many as the strictest since the Opening-up and Reform drive began in the late 1970s. It’s a clear signal that the Party is improving its governance in order to achieve the national economic development goals. ‘We must persist in comprehensively governing the Party strictly, and governing the Party according to regulations … to provide a strong political guarantee for economic and social development.’ said Xi Jinping at the recent Plenum.

President Xi Jinping addressed the 2015 Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum in Beijing on 16 Oct. He said China will engage in concerted efforts with the government and the public to fight the hard battle against poverty. Xi drew on his personal experiences in the 1960s working as a farmer in a small village in northwestern Shaanxi Province, where he was struck by the poor conditions in rural China. He said poverty alleviation will be a major part of China’s post-2015 agenda. The government will enact more policies to lift the country’s 70 million poor people above the poverty line by 2020.

Social story

China announced on 29 October that it has decided to end the one-child policy, allowing all married couples to have two children. Abolishing the one-child policy would ‘increase labour supply and ease pressures from an ageing population’, said the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The one-child policy was introduced nationally in 1979, to slow population growth rate. The state already eased some restrictions in the one-child policy in 2013, allowing couples to have two children if one of the spouses was an only child.

UK in China

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