In an interview on CCTV-13’s “Leaders Talk”《高端访谈》programme first broadcast on 24 March, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about trust and mutual understanding in longstanding Singapore-China bilateral relations, and expressed the hope that both countries would take this forward in areas such as the Belt and Road Initiative, China-ASEAN relations, China's rise and US-China relations. The following are edited excerpts of the full transcript of the interview issued by Singapore's Prime Minister’s Office.
Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at the new Chinese government installed over the weekend, noting the gradual weakening of power of the State Council, just as many of President Xi’s close aides are appointed to the executive body. What might this mean for China’s leadership in the future?
A clear theme throughout China’s Two Sessions this year has been its resistance to the US’s attempts at suppression and containment. Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong notes that while China’s rhetoric against the US has gotten stronger, it has actively shown itself to be a major global player, even in the Middle East.
China’s top officials have set out the target for the country’s economic growth and drivers for 2023, but the real work is just beginning. To meet economic growth targets and ensure economic recovery, it seems that the basic idea is to boost domestic demand and support the private sector.
While the annual Two Sessions are supposed to be a major event in China’s calendar, Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu notes that this year’s meetings seem even more staid than usual because of the elephants in the room, not least Ukraine. Coupled with delegates delivering public lines, China’s deliberative process remains more than a little opaque despite the media attention.
Chinese academic Ma Liang says it may be more worth it for the Chinese government to focus on long-term improvement of China’s air quality, rather than spending money and effort on clearing its skies only when there are major events. The government seems to be hoisting in this rationale, judging by the naturally grey skies during the Two Sessions this year. Can blue skies every day be a reality for Beijing in the near future?
Postponed at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, China’s annual legislative assembly is set to take place in the imminent future. The meeting of almost 3000 delegates will signal a return to normalcy and be a chance for the Chinese leadership to reinforce its message of victory over Covid-19. However, rhetoric aside, it will have to confront serious social and economic challenges after the pandemic.