China to push reforms as parliament session opens

China opens the national session of its parliament on Wednesday morning aiming to advance the wide-ranging reforms fronted by President Xi Jinping despite a sombre mood after suffering the country's worst terror attack in recent history.

Premier Li Keqiang is set to deliver his first government work report at the opening of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The report will sum up its achievements in the past year and lay out its plans in the coming one, including the new economic growth target set to stay at 7.5 per cent for the third year running.

Some 3,000 national legislators will spend the next 8.5 days of meetings poring over his report which will also unveil new policies to achieve the reforms pledged at the Communist Party's policy summit last November.

These include raising the role of the markets, cutting bureaucracy and red tape, boosting flagging birthrates, ending controversial practices such as labour re-education camps, and reorganising the military into a leaner fighting machine.

China was rocked by a terror attack in its southwestern city of Kunming last Saturday when eight knife-wielding assailants went on a stabbing spree that left 29 dead and 143 injured.

China, which has called it a terror attack and blamed it on Muslim Uighur separatists from restive Xinjiang region, declared the case successfully cracked on Monday night with the arrest of the three remaining suspects, after nabbing one and shooting dead four on Saturday.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg