Reason, order and justice – these are the attributes attributed to the zodiac sign of the Dog in China. Just a few days after the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the world is once again looking to Beijing.
As every year, the doors of the Great Hall of the People are now open again for the meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which, as always, discuss fundamental questions of Chinese politics and society and pass important laws and regulations.
Year after year, the delegates appear festively dressed in the forecourt and on the massive stairs leading to the Great Hall of the People, often wearing traditional costumes of the various ethnic groups of the country. The scene paints a spectacular picture.
The representatives come from different social circles, regions, nationalities, and social strata. Anyone who has ever witnessed the arrival of the NPC delegates in the Great Hall of the People or watched it on TV has certainly not missed the fact that the many representatives of the wide variety of national minorities appear full of pride and self-confidence dressed in their splendid traditional costumes .
When electing the delegates, great importance is attached to ensuring the most representative composition possible. All population groups, ethnic groups, and organizations send their respective representatives to Beijing to ensure a representative composition.
This is reflected in a quite inclusive mixture of men and women, workers and farmers, officials and public servants, intellectuals and representatives of the People’s Army and, as already mentioned, a consciously correct and balanced consideration of China’s ethnic minorities.
The first session of the 13th NPC opened in Beijing on March 5 this year. Already two days earlier, on March 3, the members of the CPPCC’s National Committee had begun their work.
The outstanding importance of this event is also reflected in the large number of journalists and media correspondents from all over the world joining the event. More than 3,000 accredited media representatives gathered this year in the newly opened media center in Beijing, to report on the diverse conference topics and resolutions.
Among other things, this year's meetings focus on the proposals to amend China's Constitution. In this context, the proposal to incorporate Xi Jinping’s ideas of Chinese socialism in the new era into the state’s Constitution is of fundamental importance.
There is widespread agreement in the Chinese media that this amendment to the Constitution is the common will of the entire Communist Party of China (CPC) as well as that of all the Chinese people.
A report by the People’s Daily states that the draft for the constitutional amendment is in line with the general will of the Chinese people. It will consolidate the general theoretical foundation of the CPC and the country as a whole to enable the nation's revival and the success of Chinese socialism in the new era.
The aim is to make the Party’s leading ideology the leading ideology of the state, an urgently needed step towards the further development of the CPC and the country as well as a crucial step towards improving the state’s Constitution.
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees the basic interests of the Chinese people. It provides the country and its people with legal certainty and orientation. Chinese socialism promotes development, justice, and joint participation in the country’s prosperity that has been achieved over the years.
Anyone who has followed the development of China closely in recent months and years has noticed the increasing will of the Chinese people for the revival of the nation and to reflect on their own performance.
There are only a few countries in the world where governments are making such great efforts to level out disparities in development in different sectors and compensate for social injustices as in China. Without Chinese socialism, this would be hard to imagine.
Another important amendment is the proposal to remove a provision from the Constitution which states that the President shall not hold office for more than two consecutive terms. Here, too, the willingness of the people to consolidate the stability, continuity, and reliability of politics and governance is likely to be a major factor.
This amendment contributes to the preservation of centralized and unified leadership by the CPC, with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core, and also promotes the strengthening and perfection of China's governance system.
For China, 2018 is the year of anniversaries. The 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up policy certainly is the most important among them.
On December 18, 1978, at the third plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the CPC, the Chinese government decided on economic reconstruction as its main objective and initiated the reform and opening-up policy.
Without Deng Xiaoping’s landmark change of course, it would hardly have been possible in just a few decades to develop China from a largely backward, underdeveloped country to one of the world’s leading economies.
The opening up and liberalisation of the political and social sphere that has taken place is also a consequence of this courageous step.
It is not only the Chinese people that benefit from Deng Xiaoping’s successful reform and opening-up policy. China has also become one of today’s most important engines of the world economy.
While people in Western countries benefit from products that are both inexpensive and high-quality, China has become one of the world's largest and most profitable markets.
China is now a leader in many areas of the high technology sector. It is therefore hardly surprising that the planning for the celebrations of 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up policy will be on the agenda of this year's annual meetings of the NPC and CPPCC.
Another anniversary this year: In 2018, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region likewise celebrate the 60th anniversary of their foundation.
However, both autonomous regions will not only be celebrating, but there will also be the launch of a whole series of projects aimed at further improving people’s living standards in these regions. That too is an important issue which concerns the delegates at this year's annual meetings.
One of the most beautiful legends of Chinese culture and literature revolves around the moon goddess Chang’e, who, every year longs for the days of the Chinese moon festival, as only then she can be close to her lover, Hou Yi.
Chang’e is also the name of the Chinese space program: The mission of the moon probe “Chang'e-4” was already approved in 2016. Since then, preparations have been underway and this year it is to be launched into space.
Chang’e -4 is expected to be the first Chinese lunar probe to land on the back of the moon, enabling communication between the Earth and the Moon at Lagrangian point L2 of the Moon and carrying out a series of research activities. It is a project that will certainly be a great source of pride for the NPC delegates and CPPCC members.
Of course, many other important topics and voting proposals will be discussed in the coming days.
Great attention was paid to the work report presented by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on March 5. Topics include three major struggles to solve key problems, namely the prevention and eradication of major risks, the precise and household-based eradication of poverty, and the prevention and elimination of pollution.
At last year’s central economic conference, the rural revitalisation strategy was identified as one of the government's eight main tasks. In this context Mr. Li Keqiang’s activity report shows that it is planned to reforest more than 66,000 square kilometers of land. This shows that the further development of rural areas also provides a wide range of topics for discussion.
As in previous years, the Chinese government places particular emphasis on combating poverty and increasing the country’s prosperity.
Today, China already has the world's largest middle-income population. Although the poverty rate has been reduced from 10.2 to 3.1 percent and average annual incomes have increased by 7.4 percent, the efforts of the state leadership in combating poverty in the country will remain high on the agenda in 2018.
In addition to an adequate supply of goods, living in a clean environment is an essential factor for the well-being of the people too.
In the new period, China will consistently continue along the path it has already embarked on and will continue to expand its efforts in many areas.
This year, for example, emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are to be reduced by three percent each and particulate matter pollution is also to be vastly reduced. The ban on the import of foreign waste also underscores the great importance of environmental protection for the Chinese government.
What is particularly impressive, are China’s economic successes.
Over the past five years, China’s economic strength has reached a “completely new, unprecedented level,” according to the Premier’s report.
Among other things, the report states that the annual gross domestic product rose by 7.1 percent and – even more astonishingly – that more than 30 percent of the growth of the entire global economy is now attributable to China’s economic power.
Thus, we can look forward to further development with high hopes.
I wish the Chinese leaders and all delegates all the best for the annual meetings of NPC and CPPCC in 2018.
Helmut Matt is a German writer and China scholar.
This article is reprinted from China Today.