Wednesday, March 5, 2014

China National People's Congress opens

China's Premier Li Keqiang says the government is targeting economic growth this year of 7.5 percent, the same as last year.

Li was speaking at the opening of the National People's Congress in Beijing on Wednesday.

The NPC meeting is the first under the leadership of President Xi Jinping.

The 3,000 participants offered a moment of silence for the victims of Saturday's stabbing rampage at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

Our NHK correspondent says Chinese leaders are now emphasizing the quality of economic growth rather than speed. But lowering the growth target would send the wrong signal to overseas businesses that economic prospects in China are weakening.

Premier Li said the government will try to improve people's lives, by dealing with air pollution and the widening gap in income.

He stressed that the government will continue to crack down on corruption among public servants and Communist Party officials.

He said the government will bolster national unity so all ethnic groups share in the country's prosperity. But he said leaders will also strengthen crisis management and measures against terrorism.

The Chinese government has called the Kunming attack an act of terrorism by separatists from the northwestern Xinjiang region.

Li also emphasized China's resolve to build up its maritime power to protect its interests and sovereignty.

He said China will protect its World War Two victory and the postwar international order, and will not tolerate moves to reverse the tide of history.

The comment was meant as a check on the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The National People's Congress runs through March 13th.