China parliament targets growth, graft, well-being
By Tom Hancock ,AFPBEIJING -- China Tuesday targeted 2013 economic growth of 7.5 percent and vowed to tackle corruption and improve the quality of life as an annual parliamentary session to seal its transition to new leadership started.
March 6, 2013, 12:34 am TWN
Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao also pledged to protect China's “territorial integrity” as the government announced another double-digit rise in military spending to modernize the world's largest standing army amid mounting tensions.
In his final major act after a decade in charge of day-to-day government, Wen delivered a “work report” to about 3,000 delegates at the opening of the National People's Congress (NPC), the rubber-stamp parliament.
The NPC is meeting for nearly two weeks and will finalize a power transfer to Li Keqiang as Wen's successor. It will also appoint Communist Party chief Xi Jinping as state president in succession to Hu Jintao.
Wen bowed deeply to the representatives arrayed under a giant red star in Beijing's Great Hall of the People before starting his farewell speech, which lasted an hour and 40 minutes.
He began with a list of achievements during his time, among them manned spaceflight, China's first aircraft carrier, its own satellite navigation system, a high-speed rail network and the hosting of the 2008 Olympics.
But public concern on the country's lively social media scene is mounting about a range of problems including corruption, pollution and skewed economic growth as the country's rich-poor chasm widens.
The new leadership have raised expectations with a deluge of propaganda during their first four months running the Communist Party, with pledges of cleaner government and greater devotion to people's livelihoods.
Wen adopted a similar tone, promising to make “improving people's well-being the starting point and goal of all the government's work” and mentioning air pollution, medical care and housing as key areas for improvement.
“We should unwaveringly combat corruption, strengthen political integrity ... and ensure that officials are honest, government is clean and political affairs are handled with integrity,” he added.