Two sessions to chart path for year ahead
Meetings carry extra weight as journey to a modern socialist country continues
As China, the world's second-largest economy, moves full steam ahead toward building a modern socialist country, the two sessions will once again show the world how the nation of 1.4 billion people is striving to reach that goal.
The two sessions are the annual meetings of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, its top political advisory body. The gatherings are highlights of China's political calendar as they set the national agenda for the year.
This year's meetings carry extra weight as last year marked a fresh start in China's quest to basically build itself into a modern socialist country by 2035 on the path to comprehensive transformation by 2049, which will mark the centenary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
"The Chinese often say that we should win at the starting line," said Zhou Hanmin, a national political adviser from Shanghai. "The year 2035 is not far away. We should seize every minute. And therefore it is even more critical to draw up blueprints and answer questions of how to do it better at this year's two sessions."
China remained a stabilizing anchor of the global economy last year, with its GDP growing by 8.1 percent－the fastest growth rate in about a decade.
Per capita disposable income hit 35,128 yuan ($5,545), up 9.1 percent year-on-year in nominal terms.
Rising incomes are tangible for Liu Jianming, a deputy to the 13th NPC from Tangdi, a village in East China's Zhejiang province.
Liu, the village's Party chief, led residents to ride the wave of agritourism and make Tangdi's market gardens a popular tourism destination.
Ninety-five percent of the village's residents are now engaged in gardening-related industries, with their per capita disposable income exceeding 110,000 yuan last year.
"Pinpointing a suitable industry is not enough to boost the economy in mountainous areas. We need talent to keep it prosperous," Liu said, admitting that there is still an urgent need for industrial upgrading in Tangdi.
In the recently published No 1 Central Document for 2022, the first policy statement released by China's central authorities each year, key tasks were outlined to comprehensively advance rural vitalization this year.
Driven by innovation
Stressing high-quality development, China has made great efforts in innovation, industrial upgrading and cutting-edge technologies.
China's spending on research and development last year rose 14.2 percent year-on-year to reach 2.79 trillion yuan, hitting a new high of 2.44 percent of GDP.
Over the past year, China has made many technological breakthroughs.
Its Mars probe, Tianwen 1, landed on Mars in May, ushering in a new chapter of China's deep space exploration. In October, China launched Shenzhou XIII, sending three astronauts to its core space station module, Tianhe, for a six-month mission.
Traditional manufacturing powerhouses quickened their pace of transformation with the help of facilitating policies. A legion of small but specialized enterprises sprang up to cement the country's industrial strength.
"Innovation will continue to be a keyword in promoting China's modernization," said Chen Liang, an associate research fellow at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economy. "I believe that in 2022, China will further improve the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and make new breakthroughs in scientific and technological innovation."
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a barometer of effective governance for more than two years and China has undoubtedly been among the best performers.
China's dynamic zero-COVID approach has provided maximum protection to the health of its people while minimizing the impact on their daily lives and economic growth.
The solutions to major issues offered by lawmakers and political advisers at the two sessions give people a good chance to understand how the country is run.
At last year's two sessions, the NPC adopted amendments to the Organic Law of the NPC and the legislature's rules of procedure.
Wang Chen, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the amendments provided an institutional guarantee for the upholding of "whole-process people's democracy" and safeguarding the people's role as masters of the country.
Last year, regarded as "Year One" for China to move toward carbon neutrality, witnessed the release of a top-level design document for peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality and an action plan for peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030.
The country's progress in cutting carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP last year met the requirements listed in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), with PM2.5 density down 9.1 percent year-on-year and the share of days with good air quality rising to 87.5 percent.
The Yangtze River, China's longest river, also saw the water quality of its primary stream continue to improve.
In January, China rolled out a series of policies to protect the marine and rural environments and prevent soil and groundwater pollution.
The recent 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games were described as "truly exceptional" by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. The event, attracting global attention, was not only a grand event of ice and snow sports but also a precious opportunity to present China's culture, which dates back over 5,000 years, to the world.
Chinese culture was integrated into every aspect of the Games, said Chen Ning, head of the culture and ceremonies department at the Games' organizing committee.
Through the Beijing Winter Olympics, China's commitment to building a community with a shared future for humanity struck a deeper chord with people worldwide.
"The opening and closing ceremonies presented a true, vivid, enthusiastic and culturally rich China to the world, which not only promoted world cultural exchanges but also brought new vitality to world culture," Chen said.