Sunday, March 04, 2012

Chinese Communist Party's National People's Congress Begins

4 March 2012
20:19 ET

China's annual National People's Congress begins

China's annual National People's Congress has begun at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing - a 10-day affair that is China's last parliamentary session under the current leadership.

Premier Wen Jiabao is delivering the opening speech to some 3,000 delegates from across the nation.

He will deliver a report card and set the agenda for the next 12 months.

These are expected to include a 7.5% target growth and $100bn (£65bn) in military spending.

The economic growth target was cited in an official report distributed to the media ahead of Mr Wen's speech, state media Xinhua news agency reports.

The country has also set its inflation target at 4% and pledged to create nine million new jobs in towns and cities.

The parliamentary session is the way the Communist Party tries to connect with the public, says the BBC's correspondent in Beijing, Martin Patience.

There is little dissent during the session and almost all decisions are rubber-stamped, he adds.

Later this year a once-in-a-decade leadership change will begin. China's leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, is expected to take over the party leadership from President Hu Jintao.

Behind the scenes of this session senior officials will be jockeying for power, says our correspondent, but the Communist party will be determined to keep any divisions within its ruling elite behind closed doors.

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