The meeting of the National People's Congress is overshadowed by constitutional changes that would allow President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely, but businesspeople and economists also are looking for signs Xi is speeding up reform.
FILE PHOTO: Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) raise a Chinese national flag during the military parade to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the army at Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, July 30, 2017.
The GDP growth target is likely to be kept around 6.5%, which the country handily beat a year ago at 6.9%.
The annual legislature session commenced on Monday and will go on till March 20. "This is a common practice", he said. It comes amid a marathon campaign to nurture self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment and to rein in surging debt that prompted ratings agencies to cut Beijing's government credit rating past year. That is $74 billion more than in the budget for the previous fiscal year.
Yu struck a less hawkish tone on Saturday, as he called for more overseas exchanges to "deepen solidarity and friendship with our compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese", and efforts to build global goodwill around the Belt and Road transcontinental infrastructure project - Xi's signature foreign policy initiative.
Zhang, however, did not address the question of numbers, saying instead that past increases by a "modest margin" had gone to equipment upgrades, training and improving welfare and living conditions for troops.
China's top economic official set a robust growth target Monday and promised more market opening and cuts in a bloated steel industry that has inflamed trade tensions with Washington and Europe. "China's development will not pose a threat to other countries", he said.
US Secretary Of State Tillerson Traveling To 5 African Nations This Week
As one senior State Department official briefing reporters on condition of anonymity put it: "There's really no deliverables". China is aggressively working to expand its regional influence, which is something of concern to US lawmakers.
"To say that the Belt and Road Initiative is a geo-strategic tool, in my view, this is a misinterpretation of the initiative", Zhang said.
China so far has been restrained in its response to the decision that has drawn strong condemnation from political leaders and economists around the globe.
Trump with Chinese president Xi Jinping on November 9, 2017.
Acknowledging their contribution to achievements made in the past five years, Xi called on non-communist parties and people without party affiliation to enhance confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, consolidate political orientation and actively offer their suggestions.
Isaac Stone Fish, senior fellow at the Asia Society and an expert on Chinese politics, said, "This is a very big deal for the Chinese people".
Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King's College London, said Wang's claim that the proposal had overwhelming support could be a veneer.