China's National People's Congress Meeting: U-M Experts Available

Expert Pitch

China will hold its annual National People's Congress meeting this Saturday, March 5, where Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will deliver the government budget and official GDP target of the year. U-M experts are available to discuss: Linda Lim is a professor of strategy at the Ross School of Business. Her research focuses on the political economy of multinational and local business in Southeast Asia.

"Both the Chinese government and international investors need to stop obsessing about China's official GDP growth target. It is increasingly meaningless," she said. "There is a lot of market uncertainty about the validity of the official growth numbers, with an entire industry having grown up to check them and suggest alternatives. "If GDP growth undershoots the target, there is increasingly not much that the government can do to boost it, given that it is close to maxed out on monetary stimulus. Previous fiscal stimulus led to excess capacity that now needs to be wound down, and announced structural reforms (like downsizing of state-owned enterprises) have not taken place. "Annual GDP growth numbers are very short-run, and it is not clear that one should make investment decisions based on them, even if the numbers are robust and believable." Contact: 734-763-0290,

Mary Gallagher, associate professor of political science and director of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, is an expert on Chinese politics, law and society.

"The Chinese economy's continued slowdown is closely related to the government's crackdown on labor activists and rising labor unrest," she said. "After tolerating labor activism and strikes in the boom years of 2010-11, the government is now much more concerned that demands from workers will negatively impact struggling companies in many sectors. Strikes and demonstrations have been on the rise even before the newly announced plans for retrenchment and layoffs in key industries dominated by state-owned enterprises.

"The government successfully managed a similar but even larger restructuring and retrenchment 15 years ago with massive layoffs and closures of SOEs across the country. The difference now is the overall economy is growing much more slowly, making it more difficult for retrenched workers to find new employment in other industries. "Li Keqiang's work report to the NPC should be closely watched for signs to how the government plans to deal with aggrieved workers who just a few years ago enjoyed rapidly rising wages and now face structural unemployment." Contact: 734-764-3566,

John Ciorciari is an assistant professor at the Ford School of Public Policy. His research focuses on Southeast Asia and examines foreign policy strategies, human rights and the reform of international economic institutions. He can talk about the possible increase in the military budget and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Contact: 734-615-6947,

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