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China’s “Two Sessions” Commence Amid Economic Concerns and Tight Security

As Beijing hosts its annual political gatherings, the focus is squarely on the state of China’s economy and rising youth unemployment. Armed police and security personnel line the streets, underscoring the gravity of the situation. At the opening ceremony of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), President Xi Jinping and party leaders will address pressing issues until March 10.

CPPCC spokesperson Liu Jieyi highlighted economic challenges and youth employment as top priorities, with official youth unemployment rates reaching 15% by the end of 2023. Meanwhile, the National People’s Congress (NPC) convenes from March 5 to 11, signaling a heightened sense of urgency. Despite optimistic assertions from spokesperson Lou Qinjian regarding economic rebound, Premier Li Qiang’s absence from the customary press conference raises eyebrows.

Against a backdrop of expanding national security measures and legislative revisions, analysts anticipate a cautious approach to economic reforms during the NPC sessions. While the NPC may lack substantive power, its discussions offer valuable insights into the leadership’s concerns and priorities.