March 05, 2010

China's Parliament Convenes

The annual session of the Chinese unicameral legislature opened in the Great Hall of the People today in Beijing. It is the third session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) and will run to around March 15. Many observers, particularly American mainstream media, dismiss the NPC session as a carefully controlled rubber stamp farce. But reporters expecting surprises don't understand the institution or the process. The NPC is one of the world's largest representative bodies. And yes it is representative. Approximately 3,000 delegates are selected by the Chinese Communist Party by an elaborate method and in some instances by direct election down to the village level. Some of the elections are internationally recognized as fair and competitive. The NPC affirms the direction China is going and gives law to Beijing’s policies.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao opened with a report on the economy and presentation of the central government budget. As in many nations today the Chinese government is predicting a deficit (around $154 billion). And while overall government spending is increasing the rate from last year is decreasing. Unreported in world media is a drop in Chinese defense spending the number 1 item in the government budget just as in the USA.

Wen said Beijing will loosen the grip of state power on "monopoly industries" and encourage further corporatization of state-owned enterprises. This is a signal that more government owned shares may be sold into market and that further privatization will occur....

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