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Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 12:57

Focus on economy, reform at annual sessions

By Xinhua

Focus on economy, reform at annual sessions
A general view shows the closing of the 3rd Session of the 12th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 15, 2015.  (AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN)

BEIJING - Economic development, how and in what way China will grow, and military and foreign policies will be some of the hot topics covered at the two sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.

From early to mid-March, NPC and the CPPCC National Committee, China's top political advisory body, will convene their annual sessions, known collectively as the "two sessions."

The upcoming political sessions come at a critical time for China, as even in the face of challenges it is edging closer to achieving highly ambitious goals through major reforms.

In about two weeks, nearly 3,000 national legislators representing all regions, the armed forces and other groups and more than 2,200 political advisors from all walks of life will discuss major state policies to be implemented this year and a development roadmap for the next five years.

Against the backdrop of China's economic transition, the implementation of major reforms, and the ongoing "building of a moderately prosperous society" make the sessions important.

Premier Li Keqiang will deliver the government work report to the NPC, which will summarize the government's work last year and outline tasks for the year ahead.

The report will normally set the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate target, as well as other indices including consumer price index (CPI) and employment.

China lowered its 2015 economic growth target to "around 7 percent," in what Li told lawmakers in March last year, in the face of "formidable" difficulties.

Official statistics showed that China's economy grew 6.9 percent in 2015 from the previous year. The growth, the slowest pace of expansion in a quarter of a century, was hard won amid a sluggish global recovery.

The lower GDP growth rate is party due to the fact that China no longer uses it as the leading index to evaluate development. As it undergoes major economic structural reform, China is moving its economy away from the former reliance on major investment projects to one driven by consumer spending.

Reducing over-capacity, levers and costs, and the championing of innovation all feature heavily in the supply-side reform drive that was put forward in January to address economic challenges.

However, despite the drop, China's GDP growth remains high, taking into consideration of its US$10-trillion plus base. The GDP increment is about the size of the GDP of Argentina or Sweden, and an increase of 1 percent now is equal to 1.5 percent five years ago.

The two sessions come as China is striving to achieve its 2020 target of "building a moderately prosperous society in all respects," and policies relating to the next major development blueprint, the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020).

The building of a moderately prosperous society is part of the country's Two Centennial Goals -- to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, and build a socialist modernized country by the middle of the 21th century.

The proposal for the 13th Five-year Plan will be submitted to the legislature for deliberation before it is formalized.

In a bid to achieve the goals outlined in the plan, public wellbeing will feature heavily throughout the two sessions, especially poverty relief.

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