Economy the Focus as China Political Session Ends

AP reports on the closing sessions of the NPC’s annual meeting in Beijing:

The world’s third-largest economy may have escaped the worst of the global financial crisis by ordering $1.4 trillion in bank lending and government stimulus, but major problems remain for the country’s 1.3 billion people.

Before its closing Sunday, the National People’s Congress will approve a budget with a more than 10 percent boost in spending to fuel the economic recovery, with more money for low-cost housing, extending pension coverage and other social programs. Premier Wen Jiabao, the country’s top economic official, will hold a rare news conference.

The priorities continue Wen and President Hu Jintao’s yearslong efforts to spread the benefits of economic growth more broadly across a rapidly changing society. This year, inflation is a challenge. Property prices are soaring. The rich-poor gap is increasing and increasingly contentious. Millions of migrant workers and farmers go without basic government aid.

Any of those issues could lead to social unrest — one of the ruling Communist Party’s biggest fears. This year’s session had the usual heavy police presence in Beijing, with dozens of activists reportedly harassed or detained.

See also “CHINA NPC: Wen: If Economic Recovery Falters, Costs Will Be Very Great” from the Wall Street Journal.