China’s highest political consultative body meet

The National People’s Congress ( NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) began their annual sessions yesterday.

There are many items for this annual gathering to discuss this year, including pollution controls,   developing investment schemes for retirement pension funds, jobs and ensuring employment, developing new opportunities for the Silk Road, developing new legislations, and President Xi Jiping’s signature policy – stamping down on corruption.

2,153 people are attending this years conference, with representatives from various ethnic groups and a larger representation from migrant workers, including Tianjin woman Xue Haiying, an activist who is campaigning for better conditions and medical insurance for migrant workers and attending the conference to seek resolution on this issue.

This year’s conference has restated the government’s corruption to stamp out corruption – two vice-presidents of this national body ( CPPCC) were arrested last year for corruption.

Chinese Foreign Miniser Wang Yi emphases China’s commitment to peace and development, and invoked the importance of Chinese ancient traditions mixing with modern methods for international relations. He said China wanted to establish “parnterships” with other countries rather than ‘allies” and that peace went hand in hand with development. Developing trade along the ancient Silk Road route countries was on aspect of that.

The Minister for Environmental Protection, Chen Jining, addressed the gathering,commenting that “China’s environmental problems are still severe”, and committing to do more. The need to do more on environmental standards were also emphasised from the highest level: President Xi Jiping. President Xi said

“We are going to punish, with an iron hand, any violators who destroy ecology or environment, with no exception”. He cited a report which aims to decrease carbon emissions by 3.1% this year. Soil, water and air pollution remain big topics at the conference this year and President Xi met with regional delegates from Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hong Kong and Macau to discuss issues.

However administrative loopholes, bureaucracy, corruption, and lack of public awareness still plagues environmental agencies. China’s ‘green’ watchdog, the Ministry for Environmental Protection, announced that 63 Environmental Protection Agencies, and 22 environmental assessment engineers had been punished for violating laws and regulations.

The meetings continue this week.