China closes annual national parliamentary session

China on Thursday morning closes its national legislature session that has seen its agenda of implementing economic and social reforms overshadowed by a terror attack in Kunming and the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner with 153 Chinese nationals on board.

Nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People's Congress (NPC) - China's parliament - have been meeting in Beijing since last Wednesday to discuss the government's work in 2013 and plans in 2014 and beyond.

After the closing, Premier Li Keqiang, who gave his first government work report when he opened this year's session last Wednesday, will meet with local and foreign media at the Great Hall of the People.

He is set to elaborate on the government's 2014 priorities, such as cutting red tape, cutting the state's involvement in the economy, and cutting the levels of environmental pollution.

The NPC session, like in previous years, took place alongside the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a top political advisory body. Both sessions are referred to as liang hui in Mandarin.

The Communist Party had wanted the meetings this year to discuss ways to implement an ambitious 60-point reform plan unveiled by President Xi Jinping at its policy summit last November.

But the public and media attention have been severely distracted, first by talk that the party would be announcing unprecedented disciplinary actions against ex-security czar and retired Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang shortly after the liang hui for corruption and other misdemeanour.

On Mar 1, two days before the CPPCC opened, China was rocked by a deadly knifing attack in south-western Kunming city by assailants said to be Uighur separatists from restive Xinjiang who killed 29 and wounded 143.

A Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 carrying 153 Chinese nationals bound for Beijing that have remained missing since last Saturday has also gripped the nation.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg