Senior Chinese leaders’ tours round country offer clues to economic policy agenda ahead of key meeting

Senior Chinese leaders’ tours round country offer clues to economic policy agenda ahead of key meeting

Several senior Chinese officials have been touring the country this week, offering some clues as to what will be top of the agenda at a key policy meeting that will set out the country’s general economic direction.

The four emphasised technological self-reliance, social stability and high-quality development during the trips, the first made by members of the senior leadership after the announcement that the third plenum would be held in July after an unexplained delay.

It is a tradition for senior officials to make domestic inspection tours before a plenum, a party gathering that will announce goals to be followed up by government agencies with specific policies.

This week, four of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee – Premier Li Qiang, the country’s top lawmaker Zhao Leji, top political adviser Wang Huning and first Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang – were touring the country while President Xi Jinping was in Europe with other senior officials.

Li visited Xinjiang between Tuesday and Thursday, saying the northwestern region should strengthen international exchanges and promote its role as a trade link between inland provinces and other countries, state news agency Xinhua reported.

His itinerary included visits to local companies, where he stressed the need to support the development of industries showcasing local strengths such as energy and equipment manufacturing. He also said the region should promote stability.



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Li’s trip followed Xi’s call to accelerate the development and opening-up of western China during a visit to Chongqing last month.

The area – including Chongqing and 11 provinces and autonomous regions – is considered strategically important for energy security and national defence.

On Friday, the premier travelled to the eastern province of Anhui, where he stressed the importance of technological self-reliance and innovation.

That was also a focus for vice-premier Ding Xuexiang during his three-day trip to northeastern China’s Liaoning province that concluded on Thursday. He visited the capital city Shenyang and port city Dalian, where he highlighted the need to develop the advanced manufacturing sector.

Ding visited a university, several tech companies and a research lab. He said business should play a stronger role in scientific innovation and collaboration between enterprises, academia and research institutes should be promoted.

Wang Huning, the party’s No 4 official and former ideology chief, travelled to southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region between Monday and Wednesday.

He said the region, which has one of China’s highest proportion of non-Han ethnic groups, needs to enforce Xi’s vision of “forging a strong sense of the community of the Chinese nation” that calls for greater integration of minorities.

Wang Huning stressed the importance of implementing Xi Jinping’s vision for integrating ethnic minorities during his visit to Guangxi region. Photo: Xinhua

This has also been a theme in his inspection trips last year to places such as Xinjiang, home of the Uygur population, Tibet and Yunnan.

The third plenum is traditionally used by the Communist Party to set out the country’s economic strategy for the next five to 10 years. July’s meeting is expected to cover a wide range of areas, from the economy to social development.

When announcing the date last month the Politburo, a key decision-making body, emphasised the risks “lurking in key areas” of the economy and the need to advance reforms and gain a strategic advantage over foreign competitors.

It has not spelled out the July meeting’s agenda, saying only that the Central Committee would discuss “further comprehensive reforms” and pushing forward “Chinese modernisation”.

The third plenum will last for up to five days and will be attended by the 376 full and alternate members of the Central Committee, the party’s top governing body.



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