China NPC: Economy growth target 'around 6.5%' in 2018

Donald Trump said Xi Jinping was

The plan to end constitutional limits on Xi's term as president has overshadowed the meeting of the National People's Congress, which usually is used to showcase economic initiatives and plans for social programmes and other government work. "This is actually a tremendous distortion of the original intention behind the constitution".

Xinhua said that China's recent reorganization of its military cut in half the number of "land force personnel among the entire" People's Liberation Army.

The Communist Party of China kicked off its annual National Congress that decides the state's agenda with this year's session primarily created to revamp the party constitution to lift limits on presidential terms, enabling President Xi Jinping to hold onto power indefinitely and entrench the single party's hold over the world's second largest economy.

As analysts expected, China set its consumer price index at "around 3 percent" compared with 3 percent last year and set its budget deficit target to 2.6 percent of GDP, down from 3 percent last year.

China will "advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness, and firmly and resolvedly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests", Premier Li Keqiang said.

The boost in the defense budget comes as China is "faced with profound changes in the national security environment", Li said.

All three fleets are growing "leaner and meaner" due to a greater emphasis on technical sophistication, Erickson wrote, adding that the US also anticipates facing a Chinese submarine fleet twice its number, though less technologically advanced. Its military spending per capita is also lower than other major countries, Zhang said. The slide toward one-man rule under Xi, already China's most dominant figure of recent decades, has fuelled concern Beijing is eroding efforts to guard against the excesses of autocratic leadership and make economic regulation more stable and predictable.

"It's a numbers game", Lui said.

Swift said the United States and other countries must "wait and see" how the "establishment of such a significant military presence" affects freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. "The government doesn't publish full and complete figures for stability maintenance spending, which is absolutely huge, across the whole country-more than a trillion yuan (U.S. $157.5 billion)".

Wang helped Xi in his campaign against corruption but retired from the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee a year ago due to the party retirement age.

"Resolutely safeguard General Secretary Xi Jinping's core status and the authority of the party's central committee and its centralised and unified leadership", Li said in a speech to almost 3,000 delegates to the ceremonial legislature in the Great Hall of the People. "You know, President Xi, I really admire him". Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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