Patrick Chovanec

Today marks the opening of the National People’s Congress (NPC) which, along with the concurrent Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — together known as “liang hui” or “two meetings” — constitutes China’s annual season of high political theater.  Since it’s the last such meeting before the big leadership change-over later this year, everyone will be reading the tea leaves with particular intensity over the coming week.  A couple things that already caught my attention:

1) He Guoqiang, #8 on the Politiburo Standing Committee in charge of internal party discipline, went out of his way to greet the Chongqing delegation to the NPC, including Bo Xilai and Mayor Huang Qifan.  He offered some rather weighty thoughts on the weather, observing that “the current climate in Chongqing is very different from that in Beijing” and “it is a period of seasonal transition,” concluding by telling the delegates to mind…

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