Xi Jinping is set to deepen his control of China’s government and economy, as lawmakers meet in Beijing to pass far-reaching reforms.
The National People’s Congress (NPC), a rubber-stamp parliament, will confirm Mr Xi’s third term as president, and the appointments of his top team.
They will also name a new premier, the second-in-command after Mr Xi, as the incumbent Li Keqiang departs.
The Two Sessions, as the meetings are known, are an annual affair.
But this year’s sessions are particularly significant as delegates are expected to reshape several key Communist Party and state institutions.
They will also tighten control over bodies overseeing the finance sector and scientific and technology work, while “strengthening party-building work” in private businesses, according to state media.
The moves will likely further blur the lines between the Chinese Communist Party and the government, and consolidate the party’s control of the private sector.
This comes amid an ongoing corruption crackdown which has seen a string of high-profile businessmen disappear in recent years. The latest person to go missing was one of China’s top dealmakers in the tech sector.
This week’s NPC meeting will also formalise Mr Xi’s leadership of the country, as he will be elected president of China and head of the armed forces.
He secured his position in the echelons of Chinese power in October last year, when the Communist Party re-elected him as their leader for a third term.
It was a break from decades-long tradition, as no other party leader besides Communist China’s first leader, Mao Zedong, will have served for this long. In the 2018 NPC meeting, lawmakers had approved the removal of term limits on the presidency, effectively allowing Mr Xi to remain leader for life.
Mr Xi’s appointment comes as he faces domestic pressure to turn around an economy battered by his zero-Covid strategy and crackdowns in various business sectors.
At the start of the meeting, it was announced that China will pursue a reduced economic growth target of about 5% this year, while defence spending is to rise by more than 7%.
Abroad, Mr Xi is navigating worsening ties with the US over the Ukraine war and the recent spy balloon saga, even as he warms his embrace of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.