The 'Big Two', as the annual CPPCC and NPC plenary sessions are called, will open on May 21 and 22 respectively in Beijing with the unusual provision, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, for Deputies and officials to participate via videoconference. The sessions are also likely to be shorter, fewer journalists will be permitted to attend and the press conference will be via video. The Deputies will discuss and approve the Work Report presented by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the national budget and projections for the coming year, and the allocations for national defence and national security. South China Morning Post (May 20) said that PLA officers were pushing for a defence budget hike of 9 per cent higher than the 7.5 per cent increase of last year. The Finance Minister's report will probably mention a growth rate target -- though debates have been underway among China's economists as to whether the report should at all mention a figure -- and the measures being taken to alleviate distress caused by the pandemic. Chinese President Xi Jinping's 'Poverty Alleviation' programme, which is part of his 'China Dream', can be expected to find a mention as will the huge problem of unemployment and jobs for China's almost 9 million graduates.

(Comment: By March 2020, the number of unemployed in China had jumped to an estimated 70 million from approx. 20 million in 2019. Estimates now vary and range between 17-20 million. ) 

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