Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), delivers a report on the work of the CPPCC National Committee's Standing Committee at the fifth session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 3, 2017. The fifth session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee opened in Beijing on March 3. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)
BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday raised the curtains for its annual political high season, with the top political advisor pledging further conformity to the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core.
Chairman Yu Zhengsheng addressed over 2,000 members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, which convened its yearly session at the Great Hall of the People.
Political advisors should "stick to the leadership of the CPC more consciously, and unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the core" to implement decisions and policies made by the CPC Central Committee, Yu told his colleagues in a work report.
"The endorsement of Xi's core status last year at the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee embodies fundamental interests of the Party and the people, and is of far-reaching importance to China's long-term stability and prosperity," he said at the opening of the annual session.
On Sunday, the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, will also begin its yearly assembly. Dubbed colloquially as the "two sessions," the dual meetings set the national agenda for the year and beyond, and make regular yet crucial venues where political and economic developments are reviewed and discussed, and key policies adopted.
Although there are no major government appointments scheduled on this year's agenda, the meetings are the first high-profile national political events held since President Xi was endorsed as the core of the CPC Central Committee last October.
Pledges to conform to the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core are expected to feature significantly during the meetings, which will run until the middle of the month.
A commentary by China's state news agency Xinhua on Friday said Chinese legislators should actively work to safeguard the authority of the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core to make sure that the work of the NPC progresses in the right direction.
Yu Zhengsheng, for his part, also underscored that CPC members should sharpen their awareness of political integrity, the overall situation, the core and conformity with the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core.
He said the CPPCC must work to help pool the whole country's wisdom and strength for targets and tasks to be set at the upcoming 19th National Congress of the CPC slated for the second half of 2017.
Pledges of conformity aside, the economic front also sits high on the agenda. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will announce the nation's gross domestic product target for this year in his government work report.
At a time of slowing global economic recovery and considerable uncertainty in financial markets, observers will be combing through the document line-by-line for nuances in policy development.
Yu said 2017 is an important year for the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan, a roadmap approved last year for China's national economy and social development from 2016 to 2020.
China's economy, long a reliable source of global growth, expanded 6.7 percent year on year in 2016 -- a nearly three-decade low -- amid concerns over weak growth momentum in major economies and rising trade protectionism globally, as well as domestic debt overhang, excess capacity and a highly leveraged property market.
Although no official target for this year will be available until Sunday, earlier reports said China has targeted average annual GDP growth of more than 6.5 percent during the 13th Five-Year Plan period.
Such a growth rate is crucial to double GDP and per capita income from 2010 levels by 2020.
With the CPC set to hold its 19th National Congress in Beijing in the second half of the year, stabilizing the economy will be prioritized by policymakers. A Central Economic Work Conference late last year made "seeking progress while maintaining stability" the main theme for economic work in 2017, pledging progress in supply-side structural reform, an economic vehicle proposed at the end of 2015 to resolve structural imbalances in the Chinese economy.
In his report, Yu also mentioned supply-side structural reform, which focuses on five tasks: cutting industrial capacity, reducing housing inventory, lowering leverage, cutting corporate costs and improving weak economic links.
The CPPCC should work to help the nation adapt to and guide itself through its economic "new normal," in order to achieve steady and healthy economic development, he said.
Also on the agenda of this year's two sessions is a draft General Provisions of Civil Law, set to be reviewed and discussed by legislators and political advisors.
Passing of the draft, which protects personal liberties and human dignity, will mark a crucial first step in introducing a civil code, hopefully in 2020.
Legislators are also expected to deliberate a draft decision on deputy elections for the 13th NPC, and draft methods for the election of deputies to the 13th NPC from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Other topics at the NPC session include a state budgetary review, and military spending.
China announced a 7.6-percent rise in its national defense budget last year, the lowest growth in six years, breaking a five-year run of double-digit increases between 2011 and 2015.
The increase in 2015 was 10.1 percent.