The National People’s Congress is one of two big annual meetings in the Chinese calendar—the other being the party’s annual plenary session usually held in October. For decades, the NPC has been widely referred to elsewhere as a rubber-stamp parliament (the word rubber suggests a degree of flexibility that feels increasingly inaccurate), but it is also an invaluable window into the plans and thinking of Those in Command. And the plan is to double down on the successes of the past year—the economic and social stability created by a rigorous approach to the virus once its existence was fully accepted. Growth this year is scheduled to be in excess of 6% again, and a far-reaching five-year plan was announced which aims to make China self-sufficient in science and tech and everything else that matters. But it was not a repeat of the stimulus splurge that passed this week in Washington—controlling debt is high on their agenda, as it should be. Debt is a big problem for China, as was underlined this week by a bailout of 21 local banks in Sichuan, and property developer China Fortune defaulting on yet another debt repayment, this time for $1.3 billion. The Center desperately wants to give the impression that companies, banks and local governments must bear the consequences of bad decisions, but when it comes to it, a vast range of things seem to be too big to be allowed to fail. It’s a dilemma inherent to the system.
In other news, the Biden administration firmed up Trumpian controls on the sale of parts and equipment to Huawei. Their phones are good, but it’s going to be tough for that company in the months ahead.
Enjoy the weekend. Spring is nearly here.