Post-virus, China aims to be The World's No.1 'Technology Power'
At the National People's Congress (NPC), which opens today, Friday 5th March, China's leaders at the high-profile political event, a meeting of its ceremonial legislature, will focus on the long-term goal to make China a global technology leader. 2020 has meant that China's focus has been on the coronavirus, but now it's back to business amid tensions with Washington, Europe, Australia, India, Japan and others over trade, and also tensions with Hong Kong and human rights.
Although the NPC has no real power, the 'gathering' of over 3,000 party-appointed delegates, will showcase economic and social plans, with plans this year for a 'green transformation' of the economy. These delegates don't represent the public, but merely endorse decisions made by party leaders. Most of the focus at past NPC gatherings has been on domestic issues, but with international tensions, these have shifted to geopolitics, the ongoing feud with Washington over technology and security, with Huawei under the spotlight. In October 2020, party leaders agreed to make China a self-reliant 'technology power' as an economic priority during 2021.
Washington has cut-off access to US processor chips and other inputs needed by telecoms giant Huawei and other Chinese manufactures. This has had a knock-on effect with other Chinese fledgling industries, inhibiting their path to prosperity and global influence. With the focus now away from the coronavirus, China must now concentrate on its long-term development objectives, focusing on technology. President Xi Jinping's government wants to encourage Chinese exporters to focus on the domestic markets, now that tariffs have weighted down the price of goods coming from China.
China's biggest annual political event, the NPC is held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. It is thought that the remaking of Hong Kong's electoral system will feature strongly during the congress, with tightening control being focused on the territory. And the finalising of China's 14th Five-Year Plan, part of the plan focusing heavily on boosting China's innovation and technology objectives, making it a technology powerhouse.
During the week-long annual NPC, Chinese leaders will also announce the level of spending on the People's Liberation Army, thought to be $178.6 billion in 2020, second in cost, to the United States defense budget. China is now focusing on the future and its ambition to become 'The World's No.1 Technology Power'. It gives the 'Made in China' label, a whole new meaning.