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China's Government Promises Improvements As Congress Opens

China's government promised to fight corruption, improve the environment and improve people's lives as the annual National Peoples Congress began its legislative session Tuesday.

Thousands of delegates from all over the country have gathered in Beijing for nearly two weeks of meetings that will oversee China's once-in-a-decade leadership change and approve new policies.

Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao delivered his last government work report at the opening session. He urged delegates to work to ensure people's wellbeing.

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 two-week congress, China's new President Xi Jinping will formally take over from Hu Jintao. Li Keqiang is expected to take over from Premier Wen. The congress also will appoint other new top officials.

China's new leadership faces an increasingly vocal citizenry that demands action on corruption, human rights, education and pollution.

Xinhua quoted Wen Tuesday as saying that the government will work to reduce urban unemployment and ensure that the people's income increases in step with economic growth.

Mr. Xi made similar promises after being elected as head of the Communist Party's Central Committee and chairman of the military commission in November of last year. He pledged to curb corruption, raise living standards and create a fairer society.

Local media report that at a party meeting Monday he called for economic development based on innovation to make the Asian country a world economic leader.

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