The Latest: China promises to be bolder on economic reforms

Delegates in ethnic minority dress stand outside the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Monday, March 5, 2018. China's government pledged Monday to deliver robust growth, pursue advanced technology and boost military spending while urging the public to embrace President Xi Jinping's rule as its ceremonial legislature prepared for changes to allow him to stay in power indefinitely. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Hospitality staff members react after posing for a selfie during the opening session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 5, 2018. China's government pledged Monday to deliver robust growth, pursue advanced technology and boost military spending while urging the public to embrace President Xi Jinping's rule as its ceremonial legislature prepared for changes to allow him to stay in power indefinitely. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Delegates from China's People's Liberation Army leave after attending the opening session of China's National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 5, 2018. China's government pledged Monday to deliver robust growth, pursue advanced technology and boost military spending while urging the public to embrace President Xi Jinping's rule as its ceremonial legislature prepared for changes to allow him to stay in power indefinitely. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Delegates check the government's work report during the opening session of the annual National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese leaders and delegates stand as the national anthem is played at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a work report at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING — The Latest on the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing (all times local):

2 p.m.

China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, has promised more market opening and cuts in a bloated steel industry that has inflamed trade tensions with Washington and Europe.

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.

Li affirmed China "will be bolder in reform and opening up" in his nationally televised speech. He specified the manufacturing industry would be "completely" opened to foreign investors and access would expand in other industries, but gave no details.

Foreign business groups complain previous pledges have been diluted by conditions such as ownership limits or requirements to hand over technology that make them unappealing.

___

10 a.m.

China's finance ministry says the country's defense budget this year will rise 8 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($173 billion).

The figure released in a report Monday to the National People's Congress is an increase from last year, when ministry officials told the Associated Press the budget was rising to 1.044 trillion yuan ($151 billion).

China's defense budget is the world's second largest, behind the United States.

China is preparing to launch its second aircraft carrier, integrating stealth fighters into its air force and fielding an array of advanced missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances.

On Sunday, Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the legislature, said China's defense spending as a share of GDP and the budget also remains lower than that of other major nations.

___

9:30 a.m.

Chinese leaders have set this year's official economic growth target at "around 6.5 percent," which is down slightly from 2017 but would be among the world's strongest if achieved.

The announcement Monday came at a meeting of China's ceremonial legislature that is overshadowed by proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Xi Jinping to remain in power indefinitely.

The growth target — down from last year's "6.5 percent or higher if possible" — reflects Beijing's promises to pursue more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption instead of exports and investment. However, it still is high enough that private-sector analysts have questioned whether it can be achieved without setting back reform efforts by pumping up bank lending and government stimulus spending.

Must Read

Tesla's Autopilot system under scrutiny in fatal...

Sep 15, 2016

Tesla faces new scrutiny in China about its vehicle Autopilot system after state television...

Asian stocks markets retreat after Wall Street...

Dec 23, 2016

Most Asian stock markets have declined in thin trading ahead of the Christmas holiday after Wall...

Asian shares mixed as investors consider latest...

Jan 5, 2017

Asian stock indexes mixed as investors assess latest Fed meeting minutes; Japan shares slip as yen...

McDonald's sells China business in deal worth up...

Jan 9, 2017

Fast-food giant McDonald's is selling a controlling stake in its China business to a group of...

Chinese delegation open to meeting Trump's team...

Jan 11, 2017

A Chinese official says President Xi Jinping's delegation to the World Economic Forum is open to...

Sign up now!

Advertisement