China ends 30-year tradition: Premier's annual press conference

By Reuters   March 4, 2024 | 02:59 pm PT
China ends 30-year tradition: Premier's annual press conference
Chinese Premier Li Qiang takes a part in a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Photo via Reuters
China has scrapped one of the most widely-followed events on its economic and policy calendar, the premier’s post-parliament news conference.

For three decades, during a period when China was opening up, the briefing had offered foreign investors and governments insights into how Chinese policymakers regard the challenges of managing what is now the world’s second-largest economy.

In a surprise announcement on Monday, a spokesman said China’s Premier Li Qiang will not brief the media at the close of this year’s annual parliamentary meeting, which begins on Tuesday in Beijing.

Moreover, barring special circumstances, Li will hold no such annual press conferences for the remaining term of China's parliament ending in 2027, National People's Congress spokesman Lou Qinjian said.

Since 1993, China's premiers have met the media after the annual parliament gathering, taking wide-ranging questions from Chinese and foreign journalists in news conferences broadcast live globally.

The premier's annual meet-the-press session used to be the highlight of the parliamentary meeting, because as the head of the State Council and the main person tasked to run economic policy, he was seen as speaking with more authority and more big-picture perspective than cabinet ministers.

At the close of the annual parliament session last year, Li sought to reassure the country's private sector in his first media conference as premier.

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