China's annual legislative session opens today amid a challenging leadership transition and a day after the country unveiled the latest in string of boosts to defence spending.
The National People's Congress comes as President Hu Jintao and the most senior Communist Party leaders prepare to step aside later this year to make way for a younger generation.
Against this backdrop, Premier Wen Jiabao is not expected to launch major initiatives when he opens the meeting, but to focus on piecemeal programmes to help private enterprises to get loans and raise workers' wages.
Yesterday, China announced that defence spending would grow by 11.2 per cent this year over 2011 to hit 670.2 billion yuan (£67.2bn) in 2012. AP