China faces economic challenges as annual congress opens

China faces economic challenges as annual congress opens

China’s top leaders are convening this week for the annual meeting of the national legislature, where they will face the daunting task of reviving the economy amid a slowdown in growth, a crisis in the property sector, and rising tensions with the U.S. and other countries. The congress, which starts on Tuesday, will endorse the decisions and plans of the ruling Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping, who is expected to secure a third term as party chief later this year.

Delegates leave after a preparatory session of the National People’s Congress outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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The congress will also announce an official economic growth target for 2024, which analysts expect to be lower than the previous goal of 6% for 2023. China’s economy grew by 4.9% last year, the slowest pace in three decades, as it was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, trade disputes, and domestic challenges. The economy is also facing headwinds from the collapse of Evergrande, the country’s largest property developer, which has triggered a wave of defaults and protests across the industry.

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The congress will likely unveil measures to stabilize the property market, which accounts for about a quarter of the economy, and to support the incomes and consumption of households, which have been squeezed by rising living costs and debt burdens. The congress will also address the issues of aging population, environmental protection, innovation, and social stability, as well as the party’s long-term vision of achieving “common prosperity” and “national rejuvenation”.

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The congress will also set the tone for China’s foreign policy, as it faces growing pressure and competition from the U.S. and its allies over issues such as human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea. The congress will likely reaffirm China’s sovereignty and interests, while calling for dialogue and cooperation with other countries on global challenges such as climate change, pandemic response, and economic recovery.

A young couple walk by a construction site near office buildings in the Central Business District
Source : AP NEWS

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