China Abruptly Cancels Annual News Conference

In a departure from a practice that has persisted since 1993, National People’s Congress spokeswoman Lou Qinjian said that Premier Li Qiang would not hold a news conference, which typically occurs at the conclusion of the annual session.

The Chinese government stated on Monday that the premier’s annual press conference, a once-in-a-year chance for journalists to question a senior Chinese official, will no longer be held. The premier’s news conference following the congress has been a staple of state broadcaster CCTV’s coverage since 1992.

The government’s intentions to revive the faltering economy will be closely watched during the weeklong meeting of the primarily ceremonial congress, which begins on Tuesday. During the inaugural session, Li will present the annual report, which is expected to disclose the government’s objective for economic development in 2024.

Xi and Li were among the state leaders who attended the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference opening session, a rival advisory body. The event occurred in the magnificent Great Hall of the People, a red-carpeted chamber on one side of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, has speculated that the move is indicative of a weakening of the premier’s and the government bureaucracy’s power as Xi Jinping and the Communist Party tighten their grip on power in China.

According to Lou, the approximately three thousand delegates to the congress, as well as ministers and other government officials, would have more opportunities to be questioned by journalists. Dispelling concerns about recent changes to the national security regulations, Lou stressed that China is still inviting foreign investment and business. The nation, he said with conviction, could triumph over any obstacles to its access to technology.

Lou further stated that China’s technological development—including establishing its satellite navigation system similar to GPS—makes technological containment of the country impossible.

Lou opted not to comment on the impact of the US presidential election on China-US ties this year. The American politicians’ criticism and visits to Taiwan, a self-governing island China claims as its own, were points with which he strongly disagreed.

The expected rise in defense expenditures will be revealed during Tuesday’s opening session of Congress.