Two Sessions in China: Insights for Pakistan
Editor's note: The writer is Muhammad Asif Noor, founder of Friends of BRI Forum. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
All eyes are currently fixed on the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), as nearly 3000 NPC deputies and around 2000 CPPCC members gathered in Beijing to finalize China's national, regional, and global meaningful presence forward. This year's "Lianghui" or "Two Sessions" are happening amidst a unique backdrop as China gradually opens up in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era. Pakistan being one of the close allies of China and a key partner in Belt and Road (BRI), is closely watching the outcomes and developments happening during the Two Sessions. Any significant change in China’s socioeconomic, political and strategic arena might have a direct impact on Pakistan’s regional and global engagement.
Legislators from all corners of the country have convened to deliberate on matters of national interest and review key government work reports that aim to promote China's global engagement and economic progress. As the world watches, the Two Sessions will showcase China's whole process of people's democracy, highlighting its ability to build consensus and chart a path forward for the nation's future.
In October 2022, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) declared its commitment to advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through a path to modernization. As the country embarks on this new journey of modernization in 2023, the unveiling of measures during the "two sessions" holds great significance not only for China but for other nations around the world deeply connected with China. These measures will not only shape China's future but will also impact global economic and political dynamics. As such, nations and international organizations will closely monitor the outcomes of the Two Sessions.
The "Two Sessions" are the meetings where NPC and CPPCC gather to make crucial decisions regarding China's national progress having far-reaching implications. There may be several other crucial appointments and confirmations, such as those of the Premier, State Council, Cabinet, and the CPPCC members. These decisions will set the tone for implementing China's domestic and international policies and will significantly impact China's future and global standing.
China has announced an official economic growth target of approximately 5% for 2023 as part of its efforts to reinvigorate the world's second-largest economy. In addition, the country will increase its defense budget by 7.2%, representing a slight uptick from the previous year. Despite the uncertain global economic outlook, China remains optimistic about the prospects of its economy this year. This confidence is significant as the Chinese government is bringing the targets forth for 2023 closer to achieving them.
China represents the world's most promising market, with a middle-income population exceeding 400 million. Some experts predict that this middle-income group will exceed 800 million within the next 15 years. The private sector is expected to play a critical role in the coming year to boost growth. The digitization of the economy is another crucial step to increase the integration of the digital economy and manufacturing.
Pakistan is also carefully observing the developments and outcomes of the Two Sessions. The investments in the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the establishment of the industry in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are deeply linked with economic growth in China and the capacity of Chinese businesses to invest in Pakistan. The decisions made during the sessions will have far-reaching implications for Pakistan as the country grapples with the challenges and pressures from IMF. The demands of the international financial institutions have been emplaced for the government to comply.
Despite growing challenges, the recent support from the China Development Bank (CDB), and an expected high-level visit from Pakistan in the coming days might help achieve a significant level of cooperation to thwart the global and regional economic, political and strategic pressures for Pakistan. As an all-weather strategic friend, China has always stood by Pakistan in challenging times and is likely to support Pakistan in the near future. The outcomes of the Two Sessions are expected to add another important block in the stronger friendship between China and Pakistan that will make the future stronger and brighter together.