Li Keqiang said he would tackle state “zombie enterprises” producing more coal and steel than the market needed.
Similar pledges in the past have proved hard to fulfill.
More than 3,000 legislators are meeting in the Great Hall of the People.
The NPC and its advisory body hold ceremonial meetings every year known as “lianghui” or “two sessions”.
Image source Flickr
PM Li Keqiang described the world’s second-largest economy as a butterfly struggling to emerge from a chrysalis.
The premier said this transformation was filled with promise but also great pain.
Li Keqiang repeatedly paid tribute to Communist Party leader Xi Jinping and said that under the sound leadership of the Party, the Chinese people had the courage and ingenuity to overcome all difficulties.
His list of China’s difficulties ranged from the smog which blankets much of the country to the laziness of some government officials.
In a veiled reference to President Donald Trump’s complaints about China’s exchange rate and trade policies, PM Li Keqiang warned of a far more complicated global picture in the year ahead with China facing the threat of growing protectionism.
NPC leaders are tolerating slightly slower economic growth this year to give them more room to push through some painful reforms to deal with a rapid build-up in debt, Reuters reports.
On the subject of tackling China’s pollution issues, Li Keqiang pledged to “work harder” to address the issue exacerbated by heavy industry.
This year’s “lianghui” comes ahead of a major Chinese Communist Party congress, due to be held later this year.
That congress will confirm party chief and President Xi Jinping’s second term in office, as well as announce changes in the party’s top leadership.
US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
His visit to Asia has been dominated by a row over China’s newly-declared air zone, which covers East China Sea disputed islands controlled by Japan.
Joe Biden arrived from Tokyo, where he reaffirmed the US alliance with Japan.
The vice-president attended an official welcome ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People where he met China’s Vice-President Li Yuanchao, and said China and the US should expand practical co-operation and deliver results.
On Thursday he will visit China’s leadership compound, known as Zhongnanhai.
While in Tokyo, Joe Biden said he would raise concerns over China’s new air zone “in great specificity” during meetings with China’s leaders.
Jo Biden and Xi Jinping are said to enjoy a relatively close relationship.
Joe Biden has arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang
China announced a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) last month, and said aircraft flying through the zone must follow its rules, including filing flight plans.
The ADIZ covers islands claimed and controlled by Japan, and a submerged rock claimed by South Korea.
The US, Japan and South Korea have rejected China’s zone, and flown undeclared military aircraft through the ADIZ.
On Friday, China scrambled fighter jets to monitor US and Japanese planes flying in the area.
Tokyo has told its national carriers not to file flight plans with the Chinese side when transiting the zone, but on Friday the US said it expected its carriers to “operate consistent with Notams [Notices to Airmen] issued by foreign countries”.
This did not indicate “US government acceptance of China’s requirements for operating in the newly-declared ADIZ”, the state department said.
Speaking in Tokyo on Tuesday, Joe Biden said the US was “deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea.”
On Wednesday, Chinese state media criticized Joe Biden’s comments.
“Washington has obviously taken Japan’s side,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in an editorial.
China’s new President Xi Jinping has said he will fight for “the great renaissance of the Chinese nation,” in his first speech as head of state.
Closing the annual National People’s Congress, Xi Jinping urged delegates to reject extravagance and fight corruption.
At a news conference later, new Premier Li Keqiang said sustainable economic growth would remain the top priority.
The comments come as the Communist government completed a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
President Xi Jinping’s address was a patriotic speech urging greater national unity.
Its nationalistic tone will reinforce the view that he will pursue a more assertive foreign policy during his decade in power.
President Xi Jinping issued a warning to China’s military, saying it should improve its ability to “win battles and… protect national sovereignty and security”.
He also stressed that continued economic development was essential, urging the nation to achieve what he called “China’s dream”.
China’s new President Xi Jinping has said he will fight for “the great renaissance of the Chinese nation,” in his first speech as head of state
The same themes were taken up at a rare news conference by new premier Li Keqiang, who has taken over the day-to-day running of the country, succeeding Wen Jiabao.Li Keqiang addressed the growing inequality gap and public anger at corruption, promising to reform the central government, cut “extravagance” and shake-up “vested interests”.
Spending on the government payroll, overseas trips and new offices would be cut while funding for social services would increase, he said.
“A clean government should start with oneself,” Li Keqiang asserted.
Li Keqiang was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.
On foreign policy, Li Keqiang stressed on the importance of further developing relations with the US, saying that “common interests far outweigh our differences”.
He described as “groundless” US accusations that China was behind recent cyber-attacks on American government agencies and companies.
On Saturday, the People’s Congress approved a number of new ministerial appointments, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.
The four vice-premiers are Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai – all veteran Communist Party officials.
Li Keqiang has been named as China’s new prime minister, placing him at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy.
Li Keqiang, who already holds the number two spot in the Communist Party, takes over from Wen Jiabao.
He was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.
On Thursday, Xi Jinping was confirmed by legislators as the new president, completing the transition of power from Hu Jintao.
Li Keqiang’s widely-signalled elevation was confirmed by 3,000 legislators at the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, in Beijing. He received 2,940 votes to three, with six abstentions.
As premier, Li Keqiang will oversee a large portfolio of domestic affairs, managing economic challenges, environmental woes and China’s urbanization drive.
The appointments seal the shift from one generation of leaders to the next. A raft of vice-premiers and state councillors will be named on Saturday, before the NPC closes on Sunday.
Li Keqiang has been named as China’s new prime minister, placing him at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy
Li Keqiang, 57, who is seen as close to outgoing leader Hu Jintao, speaks fluent English and has a PhD in economics.He has called for a more streamlined government, eliminating some ministries while boosting the size of others.
The son of a local official in Anhui province, Li Keqiang became China’s youngest provincial governor when he was tasked to run Henan.
But his time there was marked by a scandal involving the spread of HIV through contaminated blood.
Li Keqiang is expected to end the NPC with a press conference on Sunday, given by Wen Jiabao in the past.
On Thursday, Xi Jinping’s move was approved by 2,952 votes to one, with three abstentions.
Hours later, President Barack Obama called both to congratulate him and raise concerns over ongoing issues, including cyber hacking and North Korea.
“Both leaders agreed on the value of regular high-level engagement to expand co-operation and co-ordination,” a White House statement said.
Barack Obama is sending both Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry to Beijing in coming days, in an apparent bid to reach out to the new administration.
In an editorial, state-run Global Times said Xi Jinping and his colleagues needed to show powerful leadership to unite society.
“China cannot stop developing or fighting corruption. Social unity is the key to how China can stand against complex international affairs,” it said.
Meanwhile, prominent dissident Hu Jia said he was detained and beaten by police on Thursday after he criticized the election of Xi Jinping as fake.
The well-known AIDS activist said police also refused him treatment for injuries to his head and ribs.
He said authorities were also angry because he had arranged meetings with Liu Xia, wife of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is under house arrest.
Seen as one of the more reform-minded members of the new leadership
Started out as a manual laborer on a rural commune
Studied law at Peking University, where he became involved in student politics
Widely speculated that Li Keqiang was former President Hu Jintao’s preferred successor, but lost the top job to Xi Jinping
China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao promised stable growth, anti-corruption efforts and better welfare provision as he opened an annual session of parliament.
Wen Jiabao, whose work report traditionally begins the session, also called for more balanced development in a lengthy speech on both achievements and plans.
This National People’s Congress will see the final stage of the country’s once-in-a-decade leadership change.
Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will become president, replacing Hu Jintao.
The event will be keenly watched to see who secures other top government posts.
This work report – a 29-page consensus document approved by the leadership – is Wen Jiabao’s last. He is expected to be replaced by Li Keqiang as premier later in the parliament session.
The report set a target of 7.5% for economic growth, unchanged from 2012, with an inflation target of 3.5%, and promised to create more than nine million new urban jobs.
PM Wen Jiabao said boosting domestic consumption was key, calling it a “long-term strategy for economic development”.
Noting that dramatic changes to Chinese society had led to a marked increase in social problems, Wen Jiabao said livelihood issues should be addressed.
“We must make ensuring and improving people’s well-being the starting point and goal of all the government’s work, give entire priority to it, and strive to strengthen social development,” the PM said.
He spoke of improving pension provision for the poor and also focused on the adverse effects of development on the environment, saying: “The state of the ecological environment affects the level of the people’s well-being and also posterity and the future of our nation.”
Corruption – the focus of Xi Jinping’s speech after he was formally appointed to lead the Communist Party in November – was also on the agenda, with Wen Jiabao calling for strengthened “political integrity” and better checks on power.
“We should ensure that the powers of policy making, implementation and oversight both constrain each other and function in concert,” he said.
China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao promised stable growth, anti-corruption efforts and better welfare provision as he opened an annual session of parliament
State media also reported that defence spending would rise by 10.7% to 720.2 billion yuan ($115.7 billion), a slight drop from the rise of 11.2% in 2012.
China’s military spending has seen several years of double-digit growth – and observers say actual expenditure is believed to be far higher. But the figure falls well short of US military spending.
Nonetheless, increases to China’s military budget are keenly watched both by the US and neighboring countries with whom Beijing is currently engaged in a raft of territorial disputes.
In his speech, Wen Jiabao promised to “resolutely uphold China’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity”, drawing applause from delegates.
Around 3,000 delegates are attending the Congress, including members of the military, monks, ethnic minority representatives and business leaders. The majority are members of China’s Communist Party.
Rather than debate policy, the role of the delegates is to ratify decisions already made by party officials behind closed doors, making the Congress essentially a rubber stamp parliament.
They are expected to approve plans to restructure several government departments as well as to amend some long-standing policies on the military, the virtual monopoly of some state enterprises and on individual freedoms.
While the exact schedule has not yet been made public, towards the end of the two-week-long event, Xi Jinping will formally become the country’s new president.
Since his party promotion in November, Xi Jinping has been feted in Chinese media as a man of the people who shuns the usual trappings of his position, as well as a staunch nationalist.
He has also been quoted speaking firmly of the need to stamp out corruption at all levels, warning of civil unrest if party privilege is not tackled.
Also set for promotion is Li Keqiang who, as the replacement for Wen Jiabao, is expected to give a press conference at the end of the gathering.
Security has been tightened for the NPC, with police and other security personnel patrolling in increased numbers around the Great Hall of the People.
China’s new leaders are set to inherit a far more vocal public than their predecessors faced, with social media now forcing them to address public concerns more than they ever have before.
On the eve of the Congress, the country’s media reflected high public expectations, reporting demands for action on corruption, education, social care, the environment and inequality.
And after Wen Jiabao’s speech, many internet users posting on Weibo, Chinese versions of Twitter, appeared frustrated that the premier failed to present specific solutions to looming challenges.
Some highlighted particular concerns, such as reform of the household registration system, or water and air pollution, while others spoke out on the wealth gap.
“Whatever (economic) increase there has been has only benefitted corrupt officials; ordinary people are still poor,” wrote one internet user on Tencent Weibo.
Wen Jiabao’s report on 2013 policy targets:
Chinese economy to grow by 7.5% in 2013, with inflation kept to 3.5%
More than 9 million jobs to be created in towns and cities, while urban unemployment to be kept below 4.6%
Boost consumer spending to make economy less dependent on exports
Implement a “proactive fiscal policy” giving priority to education, healthcare and social security
Complete 4.7 million subsidized urban homes and begin construction on another 6.3 million