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China Wraps Up Annual Congress Session


China's largely ceremonial National People's Congress wrapped up its annual 10-day session Tuesday with Premier Wen Jiabao issuing new warnings to Taiwan and unveiling a reform plan to ease unrest in the countryside.

With China admitting to at least 87,000 outbreaks of unrest in the past year, the issue of rural reforms was high on the Congress' agenda. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told reporters at the end of the session his government will take unspecified measures to combat land seizures by developers, which have triggered many of the uprisings.

Mr. Wen says the government must enforce the "strictest land protection system." However, he stopped short of promising farmers ownership of the land, which they have not had since the 1950s. The communist government has also shelved a proposed law to protect private property rights, a move analysts say was prompted by growing calls here for closer adherence to socialist ideals.

The Chinese premier also had new warnings for rival Taiwan, saying Beijing is "prepared for all eventualities" if the island pushes toward declaring independence.

China's communist leadership last year adopted a law authorizing the use of military force against Taiwan if the island moves toward becoming a formally independent country. China has hundreds of missiles pointed at Taiwan.

Nonetheless, Premier Wen on Tuesday sought to ease concerns over China's military buildup, which has come along with its growing economy and its rising political profile in the world.

Mr. Wen says China's military is for self-defense only. He says any increase in defense spending is meant solely for improving China's military capabilities. He went on to say China does not intend to interfere with any other nation, even when it becomes a strong country.

The Chinese government this month announced it will boost military spending by more than 14 percent, but military experts outside of China estimate the final figure is likely to be much higher.

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