China has set its 2018 growth target at "around 6.5%"

Xi Jinping's authoritarian rise in China has been powered by sexism

Thousands of Chinese legislators erupted into enthusiastic applause on Monday over plans to give President Xi Jinping a lifetime mandate to mould the Asian giant into a global superpower. "This is actually a tremendous distortion of the original intention behind the constitution".

In his annual work report, Li also stressed that China had cut its budget deficit target for the first time since 2012, suggesting the government will be more watchful of fiscal spending.

China's government pledged yesterday to deliver robust growth, pursue advanced technology and boost military spending while urging the public to embrace President Xi Jinping's rule as its ceremonial legislature prepared for changes to allow Xi to stay in power indefinitely.

The figure released in a report March 5 to the ceremonial National People's Congress is an increase in the growth rate from previous year, when finance ministry officials said the budget was rising 7 percent to 1 trillion yuan ($151 billion).

"We will stick to the Chinese path in strengthening our armed forces, advance all aspects of military training and war preparedness", Premier Li Keqiang said as he read a report to almost 3,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People.

The defense budget follows increases of 7.6 percent in 2016 and 7 percent in 2017, Xinhua said.

He also said the military, the government, and its people must always be as "strong as stone".

All three fleets are growing "leaner and meaner" due to a greater emphasis on technical sophistication, Erickson wrote, adding that the USA also anticipates facing a Chinese submarine fleet twice its number, though less technologically advanced. All he would say is that countries have to make their own choices when it comes to adjusting military spending and that they based theirs on the economy and their defensive needs.

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"The concern in the West is, what does it intend to do with it?"

But the spotlight was squarely on the party's most powerful leader in more than four decades. In the country's vast rural backwaters, however, Xi seems to enjoy more support among the less privileged thanks to his popular war on graft and poverty.

Still, Beijing's build-up in spending sends an "alarming" signal to countries in the region and around the South China Sea.

There were also indications on Monday that former anti-corruption czar Wang Qishan has made a political comeback after leaving the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection a year ago.

"This isn't a surprise, although I didn't think it would be quite so fast", a party history scholar surnamed Wang told RFA.

"It looks as if Xi will be president and Wang will be his vice president".

Some analysts have predicted that State Councilor Yang Jiechi will take the vice president's job, however. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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