Daily Review: What Chinese Premier’s Canceled News Conference Means

Daily Review: What Chinese Premier’s Canceled News Conference Means
Delegates applaud as Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of China’s ruling Communist Party, Beijing, China, Oct. 16, 2022 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

A spokesperson for the China’s National People’s Congress said Premier Li Qiang will not hold a press conference following the country’s annual legislative session, ending a three-decades-long practice that was one of the rare times journalists could directly ask questions of a top Chinese leader. (New York Times)

Our Take

China’s “two sessions”—as its annual legislative and political advisory meetings are known—come this year against the backdrop of economic headwinds, most notably the collapse of China’s property sector and weakening domestic demand that has slowed growth. As WPR columnist Mary Gallagher has written, these issues have highlighted the need for structural reforms to China’s economic policies that will cause significant pain in the short term.

Instead, President Xi Jinping has focused on boosting confidence—and, with it, hopefully demand—among Chinese consumers and foreign investors who have been spooked by the country’s slowing economic growth. Beijing has attempted to do this via an information campaign that not only emphasizes “positive information” but also suppresses “negative information,” mainly through censorship but also by not releasing some economic data, like youth unemployment.

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