On Saturday, the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China will begin its four-day meeting.
Sounds wildly boring to be sure, but this meeting — known popularly by the snappy name “Third Plenum” — could be the biggest thing to happen to China in decades.
And given that China is now the world’s second-largest economy, that its fortunes have a major impact on U.S. corporations, and that some economists say China is on the brink of a potential economic crisis with world-shattering implications, it couldn’t hurt to take a look at what the Third Plenum is all about.
A plenum is just a meeting of China’s top Communist Party brass, and they usually hold one or two a year over the five-year term of the Central Committee, basically the party’s leadership. Most of these meetings mean very little if you’re not a member of China’s government, but the Third Plenum … that’s a different story.
Economists and news reports are quick to point out that the Third Plenum of each term — especially following a leadership change — is when all the reforms are rolled out in one gigantic flood of policy changes.
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