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China People's Congress Opens Annual Session


The parliament of China's communist regime, the National People's Congress, has opened its annual session.

The 10-day session will see presentations from top officials about their economic and social goals for China over the next five years.

Around 3,000 delegates who have been approved by the Communist Party are attending the congress in the Great Hall Of The People in Beijing.

In his address at the start of the gathering, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao pledged to extend economic growth in China, which is now the world's second-biggest economy after the United States.

Wen presented a new five-year economic plan for the country, saying the government aims for economic growth of about 8 percent this year, slightly lower than the 10.3 percent recorded last year. He said the government's top priority is to control inflation and "keep overall price levels stable."

He also vowed that the government would implement measures to curb inflation and improve conditions for poorer Chinese who have not benefited from the country's rapid growth.

"Some of the people's pressing concerns haven't been resolved, such as the lack and uneven distribution of quality education and medical resources, the increasing pressures on inflation, the rapid rise of real estate prices in some cities, and an increase of social conflict stemming from issues such as illegal land seizure and demolitions and so on," Wen said.

He also said the Chinese Communist Party would continue to expand "Socialist democracy," a word seen to refer to more open government, marginal competition for elections to party posts, and direct elections for village heads and other low-level posts.

The Chinese government's program officially calls for average economic growth of 7 percent a year from 2011 to 2015.

compiled from agency reports