China shuts down National Congress to monitor sluggish economy | Business and Economics

The world's second-largest economy faces challenges including a weak housing market and weak domestic demand.

China's leaders are wrapping up a week of key summits in which they agreed more is needed to revive a sluggish economy battered by a sluggish housing market, weak domestic demand and record-high youth unemployment figures.

Top officials have been open about the myriad challenges facing China, admitting that a modest 5 percent growth target is not easy and that „hidden risks” are dragging the economy down.

But details on how they plan to tackle the problems are scarce. They simultaneously promised to deepen powers to deal with threats to their rule, tighten a veil of secrecy around policymaking, scrap the traditional annual news conference and add national security provisions to a raft of new laws.

On Monday morning, lawmakers met for a closed session for further closed-door discussions and a vote of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, at 3pm (07:00 GMT).

Among the laws voted on will be an amendment to the organic law of China's cabinet, the State Council, aimed at deepening the ruling Communist Party's „leadership” over the government, state media said.

The tightly choreographed event caps a week of high-profile meetings that dominated the economy last year.

On Saturday, ministers pledged to do more to boost employment and stabilize the country's troubled property market.

„Workers are facing some challenges and problems in employment, and more efforts should be made to ensure employment,” Wang Xiaoping, Minister of Manpower and Social Security, told a press conference.

Housing Minister Ni Hong said it was „extremely difficult” to fix the property market, which had long accounted for a quarter of China's economy.

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But despite pledges of official support, analysts say they are yet to see the big-ticket bailouts needed to revive the flagging economy.

„Boosting household wealth and incomes is essential to revitalizing the economy, something China's leaders are not yet willing to do,” analysts at Trivium, a research firm specializing in China, said in a note.

Throughout the „two sessions,” officials have been reluctant to face questions about the myriad economic interventions facing China.

Last week, they broke decades of tradition by canceling the prime minister's news conference — a rare opportunity for foreign media to question the country's number two official.

The topic was quickly removed from search results on Chinese social media giant Weibo, as was a hashtag declaring „middle-class children have no future.”

Lawmakers have said they will adopt sweeping security laws in 2024 to „resolutely protect” the country's sovereignty and further expand the Communist Party's powers to punish threats to its rule.

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