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CHINA HEADLINES: CHINA'S XI SHINES AT 2015 "TWO SESSIONS".

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AS China's annual par liam entar y session drew to an end President Xi Jinping is again in the spotlight with the world watching how the Chinese leadership would lift the country's economy amid the "new normal" of slower growth.

Although Xi has not openly spelled out a full master plan for the road ahead in the most important two weeks in the country's political calendar this year the interactions between Xi and lawmakers and political advisors could offer a glimpse.

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT

The annual "two sessions" which bring together the full assembly of legislators and political advisors from March 3-15 have seen Xi -- himself a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) -- participate in panel discussions with lawmakers and advisors.

Each time the president spoke of exciting prospects expounding on a vision widely referred to as the "Four Comprehensives."

The popular catchphrase first coined by Xi last year is an umbrella term for comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society deepening reform advancing the rule of law and strictly governing the Party.

During a panel discussion with members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Xi noted that with the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) China had witnessed remarkable progress in its economic growth diplomacy and national defense as well as in its drive to deepen reform and counter- corruption efforts.

But the work is far from over.

Talking with lawmakers from Shanghai on March 5 the president urged the metropolis to continue to spearhead reform opening-up and innovation and make greater contribution to overall reform development and stability.

In the panel discussion with Jiangxi NPC deputies the following day he pledged to expedite efforts to build a moderately prosperous society and let the people in the old revolutionary base areas share the fruits of development with the entire country. He also vowed to advance the battle against corruption.

On March 8 Xi urged Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to embrace the ambitious Belt and Road initiatives and further expand cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The president also called for new engines of growth to revitalize the old industrial base in the country's northeast amid the new normal in a panel discussion with Jilin legislators on March 9 and highlighted the implementation of the "Four Comprehensives" again Thursday when conferring with NPC deputies from the armed forces.

Efforts should be made to strengthen national defense and the combativeness of its armed forces through greater civil-military integration said Xi who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission.

"The strategic layout of the 'Four Comprehensives' has demonstrated that there is huge potential for future development" said Xie Zhongyan a deputy to the NPC.

"It has filled the public with confidence" he said.

TO THE ROOT OF PROBLEM

Xi has not only focused on the positive aspects during panel discussions he has also offered his insight into areas where problems remain.

For Ren Kejun an NPC deputy from Jilin the day he expressed his views on agricultural development during a panel discussion attended by Xi is something he will not forget easily.

"General Secretary Xi raised more than 10 questions to me inquiring about the prices of agricultural products and soil protection and so on. Each question was very important" said Ren an agricultural expert.

Agricultural modernization should be advanced and realized in pilot regions first Xi said during the discussion.

The president also spoke extensively on poverty-reduction and improving people's living standards. "No ethnic group no region should be left behind" he said.

He promised to hasten the establishment of free trade zones (FTZs) and turn much-needed institutional innovation into a strong driver of development.

His comments on the environment even carried a slightly personal touch -- the environment should be protected in the same way that people "care for one's own eyes and life" he said adding that the political environment should likewise be cleansed of corruption.

Xi has also called for the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties urging high vigilance against Taiwan independence.

Many have said that the presence of Xi and the other six senior Party and state leaders at panel discussions offered an effective way to realize democracy and mobilize society.

Xie Chuntao a professor with the CPC Central Committee Party School lauded the fact that Xi had sat down face-to-face with lawmakers from various regions such as Shanghai and Jiangxi in the country's east Guangxi in the south and Jilin in the northeast. Xi also spoke with deputies from the armed forces and political advisors with Taiwan backgrounds.

"Xi solicited the opinions from a broader spectrum of people which will help with formulating a more comprehensive development roadmap" he said.

GETTING UNITED AND STRONGER

According to Yang Yongchun deputy head of the China Against Corruption Association the annual two sessions play an important role in building consensus and pooling wisdom from different sectors of society.

"The sessions have become more participatory and inclusive. People from different sectors and those who have different interests can develop trust and share their visions" Yang said.

For local-level deputies meeting Xi was very much inspiring.

Xie Zhongyan who manages a nature reserve around the Changbai Mountain in Jinlin was impressed by the president's interest in wildlife conservation and tourism in the reserve.

"He made instructions about Jilin's development which gave me insight into the leadership's policies and priorities. I myself have a better idea about how to balance the development of tourism and environmental protection" he said.

Mei Guoping an NPC deputy and president of Jiangxi Normal University found Xi's perspective of his hometown "quite thorough and to the point."

"He listed three priorities for Jiangxi: poverty alleviation environmental protection and counter-corruption. He was right -- these are indeed our most important issues" Mei said.

Jiangxi lags behind in economic development but boasts a good natural environment.

"As the president said we should put our resources and ideas together to make best use of our advantages" he said.

During a panel discussion with deputies from Shanghai Xi exchanged ideas with economist Zhang Zhao'an about the Shanghai FTA a pilot project to test trade and investment reform measures.

"Talking with Xi boosted my confidence in the project" said Zhang deputy head of the Institute of Economics at the Shanghai Municipal Academy of Social Sciences.

The NPC and CPPCC annual sessions gather consensus on Party strategies to realize the Chinese dream implement the "Four Comprehensives" and boost morale in face of uncertainties said Zheng Yongnian a China expert with the National University of Singapore.

"This year's sessions not only displayed the Party's strong leadership but also delivered a message to the world that under the new normal (of slower growth) China is still a land of hope and opportunity" Zheng said.
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Publication:Cambodian Business Review
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Apr 30, 2015
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