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Xi Tells Priorities as New Term Starts, Li to Speak: NPC Update

(Bloomberg) — China must redouble efforts to ensure stability and bolster self-reliance, President Xi Jinping told lawmakers in a speech to mark the start of his precedent-breaking third term. He also vowed to oppose foreign interference on Taiwan, a veiled reference to increasing American support for the democratically elected government in Taipei.

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“Security is the foundation for development, and stability is the precondition for prosperity,” Xi said Monday to close out the annual National People’s Congress.

Later Monday, Xi’s one-time personal secretary, Li Qiang, will hold his first annual news briefing since being installed as premier and the Communist Party’s No. 2 officials.

What to Know:

  • Click to read details of China’s new cabinet lineup

  • Click to view the full text of the government reorganization plan in Chinese

  • Click here to read more about this year’s NPC, which ends on March 13

  • Watch the key takeaway so far from this year’s NPC

  • A QuickTake explainer on the NPC

Key Upcoming Events:

Key NPC/CPPCC events that have been announced so far include:

Click blue links for latest developments (Time stamps are local time in Beijing):

Xi Urges Focus on China’s Stability at Start of Third Term (10:16 am)

Xi called for “reasonable” growth in the economy with a focus on improving the quality of that expansion. Officials should accelerate the construction of a new growth framework that prioritizes boosting domestic demand, driving innovation and self-reliance in science and technology, upgrading the industrial sector and promoting low-carbon development, he said.

He has used the annual parliamentary gathering to hit back at the US for trying to prevent the country’s rise. Last week, Xi called on the private sector to help overcome “comprehensive containment and suppression by Western countries led by the US,” while his foreign minister warned of the risk of “conflict and confrontation.”

What Analysts Say About China Keeping Key Economic Officials (9:03 am)

China’s economic leadership team will retain several familiar faces, a surprise decision that suggests an emphasis on policy consistency as the economy’s recovery faces multiple challenges.

That’s according to analysts, who said the moves to keep central bank Governor Yi Gang, Finance Minister Liu Kun and Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in place were pragmatic ones that may boost investor confidence at a time of uncertainty. It’s still not clear who will replace Liu He as President Xi Jinping’s top economic official, although He Lifeng, who was named a vice premier on Sunday, has been widely tipped for the post.

China Key Covid Official Keeps Job, With Most No Votes (2:39 pm, Sunday)

The head of China’s top health body received the most “no” votes of cabinet officials confirmed at the National People’s Congress, signaling a level of dissatisfaction among top lawmakers over President Xi Jinping’s draconian Covid Zero policy.

Ma Xiaowei, director of the National Health Commission, received 21 objections and eight abstentions for his reappointment in Sunday’s voting, the most objections among 26 minister-level candidates.

Meet China’s Top Officials Running the Show (2:09 pm, Sunday)

China’s parliament has formally unveiled the list of top government officials who will be managing the world’s second-largest economy as Xi Jinping begins his third term as president.

The biggest surprise is how few new faces are in the cabinet. Almost half of the 26 officials in that lineup have been in the position since 2021 or earlier, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. The only two new bureaucrats introduced over the weekend at the National People’s Congress were Li Shangfu, the defense minister, and Zheng Shanjie, as head of the economic planning agency.

China’s Jan.-Feb. Economic Data Show Improvement: Official (12:06 pm, Sunday)

China’s economic data for January and February, including industrial output and retail sales, have shown notable improvement, Kang Yi, head of the National Statistics Bureau, said in a group interview during the annual National People’s Congress meetings.

The government is “very confident” it will achieve this year’s growth target of around 5%, and China is likely to return to its potential growth rate in the long run, Kang said.

China Names US-Sanctioned Aerospace Expert as Defense Head (9:40 am, Sunday)

China has named a general sanctioned by the US to be its new defense minister, setting up a potentially awkward encounter if he’s ever paired up with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a meeting.

General Li Shangfu is set to become Minister of National Defense and State Councilor — China’s equivalent of a cabinet member. Li was targeted by Washington in 2018 for violating US sanctions by allegedly aiding in the transfer of Su-35 combat aircraft and S-400 missile system equipment from Russian arms seller Rosoboronexport to China.

China Retains Yi Gang as Central Bank Governor (9:19 am, Sunday)

China retained several of its top economic officials, including central bank Governor Yi Gang, in a surprise move as it looks to navigate the post-Covid recovery.

Yi was expected to step down, having reached the retirement age for ministers and after being left off a list of top ruling party officials last year.

China’s New Premier Li Qiang to Speak at Monday Presser (1:21 pm, Saturday)

Li Qiang will attend his first press conference as China’s premier on Monday.

The new premier will take questions from domestic and foreign media at a 10:30 am presser after the National People’s Congress meeting’s closing session, according to a statement on the NPC’s website.

China’s Leadership Takes Shape as Xi Aide Claims Premier Job (11:19 am, Saturday)

President Xi Jinping is completing his shake-up of China’s top personnel this weekend, a task that kicked off when the legislature voted to install Li Qiang as premier.

The rest of the leadership team, to be announced Sunday, are likely to be Xi allies, too. He Lifeng — the head of China’s state planning agency who is expected to replace Liu He as the vice premier responsible for economic policy — has also been floated as a contender for party secretary at the People’s Bank of China. If He takes both jobs, it would be the first arrangement of that kind since the 1990s, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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