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China starts parliament session amid global crisis
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NPC Deputies are entering the Great Hall of the People. The Opening Session of the 2nd of the 11th National People's Congress is held on March 5th, 2009 (Thursday) in Beijing.

"The economic slowdown is beginning to bottom out, and the economy is bound to rebound on huge government investment," he said.

According to a survey of factories issued Monday by the brokerage CLSA, China's manufacturing activity contracted for a seventh consecutive month in February, but at a slower rate than previous months.

Investment for a harmonious society

While explaining the stimulus plan, Wen said the government will "give top priority to ensuring people's wellbeing and promote social harmony."

He said a total of 908 billion yuan of the central government investment this year will go to projects aiming at improving people's life.

Those projects covered low-income housing, education, health care, culture, environmental protection, and reconstruction in regions affected by the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province.

As part of the efforts to shore up domestic demand, Wen said China will increase investment to improve China's social security network, whose low coverage has long been blamed for the country's high saving rate.

He said the central government plans to spend 293 billion yuan on the social safety net this year, up 17.6 percent or 43.9 billion yuan over the estimated figure for last year.

The money will be used to fund social welfare programs, including pension, medical insurance, unemployment insurance and living allowances to low-income groups.

Wen also promised that his government will improve efficiency and continue to combat corruption.

"We must discharge our duties with great diligence and, through our actions and achievements, build a government that is for the people and is pragmatic, clean, efficient to satisfy people's needs and win their trust," he said.

China impetus limited?

As the world's fastest expanding economy, China's policy making has captured international attention since the world was hit by the financial turmoil. Before Wen delivered his report, U.S. stocks broke a five-day losing streak with the Dow Jones industrial average rising 149.82, or 2.2 percent, to 6,875.84 on Wednesday.

Some analysts said expectations on China's economic stimulus package might have contributed to the stock jump.

But Wang Xiaoguang, a Beijing-based economist, said such an influence is very "limited."

Wang said China's stimulus package might help store up some investors' confidence in world economy, but the recovery of the world depends on both China and the United States.

China's economic growth could help cushion the blows of world economic downturn, Wang said. "But if the U.S. economy continued to worsen, China alone could not revive the world," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2009)

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