The National People's Congress (NPC) meets in Beijing to approve plans outlined by the Communist Party leadership. Analysts will dissect the speeches of President Xi Jinping and others for clues to China's military and economic ambitions.
Of burning interest in the whole region and beyond is whether the extensive reforms Xi has introduced in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to extend its reach beyond China's borders - and out into the South China Sea - will also extend its grasp. Some 2.3 million PLA troops serve on the ground, in the air and on the high seas.
Li's 2016 NPC speech hinted at more stimulus measures in the offing to prop up growth. Analysts who tease the premier's speech apart each year will want to know whether the stimulus measures were introduced and whether they worked. They will also dig for news of the promised structural economic reforms and for the inside line on the state of the economy. Britain's Economist magazine reported after the meeting that Li sensibly avoided the previous practice of declaring a specific aim for GDP growth for the coming year by announcing a target range - between 6.5 and 7 per cent.
An NPC web news bulletin reported in September that China's top economic planner Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, warned that challenges remain in investment and trade, and meeting annual growth targets will require "arduous efforts." Pressure will still remain in economic development in the second half of 2016, he said, then went on to express confidence that the country could meet major annual targets in economic growth, employment and commodity prices.
The NPC is the largest parliament in the world. It meets annually. Actual decision-making authority in China resides in the state's executive organs and in the Chinese Communist Party. The NPC convenes along side the People's Political Consultative Conference.
Date written/update: 2017-02-09