News / Asia

China Vows to Fight Corruption As Congress Opens

VOA News
China's government promised to fight corruption, improve the environment and grow the economy as its annual parliamentary session got underway Tuesday.

Thousands of delegates from across the country have gathered amid heavy security in Beijing for the 13-day session of the National People's Congress that will complete China's once-a-decade leadership change.

Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao delivered his last government work report at the opening session. He said China faces a difficult task in correcting China's unbalanced economic growth and income disparity.

"Economic development is increasingly in conflict with resource conservation and environmental protection," he said. "The development gap between urban and rural areas and between regions is large, and so are income disparities between individuals."

Mr. Wen said the economic growth target for China this year is 7.5 percent, similar to last year, and that the government will fight to curb inflation. Defense spending will increase by almost 11 percent.

During the meeting of the largely ceremonial parliament, Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will formally take over the presidency from Hu Jintao. Li Keqiang will succeed Mr. Wen as prime minister.

China's new leadership faces an increasingly vocal population that is calling for action on issues such as corruption, pollution, and inequality.

Jamie Metzl of the Asia Society tells VOA that if China's government cannot address these issues quickly, it faces an uncertain future.

"Whether that will translate into social unrest, I don't know. But certainly it's very important for the Chinese government, though not elected, to have some element of support among the Chinese people," he said. "Right now the central government has that, but they'll need to address these three issues in order to maintain it."

One delegate at the congress, Jin Zhanzhong, says many people in his rural province of Liaoning want the Communist Party to fight corruption.

"Rural people pay great attention to the problem of corruption. Our party has the ability and the leadership to manage the party and to develop the country," he said.

In his speech, Mr. Wen promised the government would "unwaveringly" fight corruption, a problem that the Communist Party has recently said could threaten its hold on power.

Mr. Wen also promised efforts to restore China's battered environment, saying Beijing should focus on reducing energy consumption, improving conservation and solving air, soil and water pollution.

There has been unprecedented levels of outrage leveled at the Chinese government in recent months, as extreme air pollution has filled Beijing and other major cities, grounding flights and keeping citizens indoors for days.

One controversial aspect of Mr. Wen's speech was his call for continued modernization of China's military. Government figures released Tuesday said China will boost defense spending by 10.7 percent in 2013, continuing a nearly unbroken two-decade-long pattern of annual double-digit increases.

Herman Finley of Hawaii's Asia/Pacific Center for Security Studies tells VOA that the rapid increase in military spending raises questions for China's neighbors, many of which are involved in increasingly bitter territorial disputes with Beijing.

"What is it that China is so intent on achieving? With long range aviation, amphibious ships, missiles, aircraft carriers, satellite killers, all these things on the shopping list, the (People's Liberation Army) unfortunately looks less and less like a military designed primarily for internal or territorial defense," he said.

Japan and China are engaged in a prolonged and worsening dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Countries including Vietnam and the Philippines have separate territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs