China’s rubber-stamp parliament – the National People’s Congress – has begun its annual meeting in Beijing. Outgoing premier Li Qiang – who is second in command after leader Xi Jinping – says China’s armed forces should be more prepared for combat in the face of escalating threats from abroad. Beijing says it is cranking up military spending, but at the same time it wants to promote peaceful relations with Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory. On the economy, the leadership has set a 5 percent economic growth target – one of the lowest in decades.
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