The outgoing Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, drew up a dark picture of the global perspectives, against the backdrop of increased military expenditure in China.
by Frédéric Lemaître (Beijing, correspondent)
Extremely ritualized moment of Pékinoise political life, the opening of the annual session of the Chinese parliament is hardly conducive to the outpouring of feelings. However, this Sunday, March 5 was an important date. Posting since March 2013, Prime Minister Li Keqiang did not present any activity report. At the same time, he made his farewell to the 2,848 delegates present in the immense room of the People’s Palace, Place Tiananmen.
In a few days, Xi Jinping will again be appointed President of the Republic, but he will have a new Prime Minister, Li Qiang, secretary of the Communist Party of Shanghai until last October. A man that XI chose then that Li Keqiang had been imposed on him by his predecessors.
Sign of tensions between XI and Li: the Chinese media passed over in silence the farewells imbued with Li to government teams in the days preceding his departure. Similarly, rare, during the speech of the outgoing Prime Minister on Sunday, Xi Jinping on Sunday discussed with his neighbor, Li Zhanshu, president of the Standing Committee of the Popular National Assembly. Li Keqiang was short and sober. No doubt he knew in advance that he would not be warmly applauded because it would have been badly perceived by XI and in fact, the delegates made, like him, the minimum.
The Prime Minister therefore only needed 50 minutes to review 2022 and present the priorities of 2023. Some figures attract attention. For 2023, the government relies on “around 5 %”. A particularly modest forecast. In 2022, the government had bet on growth “around 5.5 %”. It is true that in the end it was only 3.2 % in 2022 when according to the International Monetary Fund, it could reach 5.2 % this year.
a rather dark painting to come 2>
Inflation, which was only 2 % in 2022 – thanks in particular to the massive coal use for electricity production has recognized LI – should be 3 % this year. Above all, military spending will be up 7.2 %, reaching 1,555 billion yuan (around 211 billion euros). Admittedly, the Chinese defense budget remains much lower than that of the United States (766 billion euros) but the increase is symbolically higher than that of 2022 (7.1 %).
If he has not mentioned the United States, Russia, War in Ukraine, Li Keqiang has, like every year, devoted a few sentences to Taiwan. “We will work for the reunification of the fatherland, promote the peaceful development of relations between the two banks of the Strait and will advance the process of peaceful reunification of the fatherland”. Unlike 2022, he did not denounce “secessionist activities” or “external interference”.
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