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China considers amending election law
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China's parliament is considering amending the election law to give equal representation to rural and urban residents, said a parliament spokesman Tuesday.

"Provided the progressing urbanization in China, the present election law needs amending," said Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for the First Session of the National People's Congress (NPC), at a press conference.

According to the present election law, the number of people a rural NPC deputy represents is four times that of an urban deputy.

With the increase of urban population, it is necessary to give equal representation to the two groups, Jiang said.

The 10th NPC Standing Committee has suggested its successor to list the amendment in the legislation plan this year, according to Jiang.

However, the spokesman said "it is up to the 11th NPC Standing Committee, to be elected at the upcoming session, to make final decision."

The 4:1 ratio was based on the reality of Chinese society when the law was amended in 1995, Jiang said.

Ten years later, China had about 577 million urban residents and 723 million rural residents by 2006.

According to Jiang, China also plans to increase its defense budget by 17.6 percent in 2008.

The planned defense budget for 2008 is 417.769 billion yuan, a rise of 62.379 billion yuan from the actual military spending last year, Jiang Enzhu told the press conference.

The budget equals 57.229 billion U.S. dollars if converted at the exchange rate by the end of last year, Jiang said.

"The ratio it takes against this year's total fiscal expenditures is slightly lower than those of previous years," he said.

Jiang explained that the defense budget is raised to further increase benefits for military personnel and offset the impact of price hikes to allow more input in oil purchase.

More money will be spent on education and training in army, he said.

The increased budget will also be used to upgrade the military equipment "moderately" so as to enhance the troops' capability of combating a defensive war based on information technologies, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2008)
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