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China's top legislature concludes annual session, approving new Five-Year Plan

BEIJING, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, on Monday endorsed the country's 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the closing meeting of the annual parliamentary session.

Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) and state leaders Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang attended the meeting.

Wu said that during the session, the NPC deputies spoke highly of the great achievements made in social and economic development in the 11th Five-Year Plan period, and agreed that the 12th Five-Year Plan is an important document guiding China's social and economic development for the years ahead.

The new plan should be meticulously studied and fully implemented to achieve remarkable progress in boosting scientific development and substantial progress in transforming the economic growth pattern, Wu passed on the voices of the NPC deputies in his closing speech.

Further, Wu said that the deputies summarized the significance and experiences in completing the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics, and reached the consensus that the completion is an important milestone in the history of building a socialist democratic legal system.

For China, the 12th Five-Year Plan period is crucial to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and critical to deepening the reform and opening up and accelerating the transformation of the economic growth pattern.

In the coming five years and ahead, the country is believed by the leadership to be in an important period of strategic opportunities for development.

In addition to the 12th Five-Year Plan, the theme of scientific development and the transformation of the economic growth pattern are also evident in the freshly approved government work report.

Chen Wei, an NPC deputy from Shandong Province and mayor of Zaozhuang City, said the 12th Five-Year Plan has set specific goals for development in next five years.

The country will continue to make significant progress if the goals of economic restructuring and the transformation of economic growth pattern are realized. However, he warned that economic restructuring must be based on actual conditions and realistic measures.

Li Shanfeng, a sociologist with the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences, said that China's social undertakings have legged behind rapid economic development in recent years.

The government should recognize that the fundamental objective of economic development is to improve people's livelihood, and should increase spending on social issues in the next five years, he added.

Improved livelihood is also instrumental in China's drive to expand domestic consumption, which will have positive effects on boosting healthy, coordinated and sustainable economic and social development, he said.

He added that the government had initiated the framework for reforming education, health care, social security and housing sectors in the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010), and it should seize the opportunities now to improve the framework.

For instance, the government should increase the supply of affordable housing to meet the needs of low-income people.

The 12th Five-Year Plan noted that there still exists the global trend toward peace, development and cooperation, and the overall international environment is beneficial to China's peaceful development.

In the meantime, the international environment is getting more complicated as the impact of global financial crisis lingers, the world's economic growth remains sluggish, global competition intensifies, and protectionism surges, according to the plan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi recently said that China would have a broader road for peaceful development if it develops in a way that takes into consideration both the domestic and international situations and well grasp the interaction relationship between scientific and peaceful development.

Sun Zhe, an expert on Sino-U.S. relations of Tsinghua University, said that there is no longer any doubt that many countries are beneficiaries of China's peaceful development.

China needs to enhance the outside world's understanding of and trust in it through economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and various other means, he said.

"Mutual trust between China and other countries will deepen with an increasingly open and confident China and closer exchanges between China and the outside world. I believe a broader road awaits China's peaceful development," Sun said.

At the closing meeting, the NPC deputies also voted to approve the work reports of the NPC Standing Committee, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The Implementation of the 2010 Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the 2011 Plan for National Economic and Social Development were approved as well.

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