"This is a period of important strategic opportunities for China, and the economy should grow rapidly, but not be allowed to overheat," Wen said. State media reported that the target was higher than usual, "such as last year, when economic growth eventually came in at 9.5%", not the 7% originally targeted.
Overall, the session saw the leadership promise steady economic growth, currency stability, massive investment in coal mine safety and a better deal for farmers – the target of recently introduced land and tax reforms.
The premier played with the concept of a yuan revaluation, aware he is being watched by the speculators, and said China would "reform the mechanism for setting the exchange rate." At the same time he added that the yuan exchange rate would be maintained "at a proper and balanced level."
Fixing China's widening income gap is a clear goal, with deputies voting to end the agricultural tax – now amounting to RMB20bn (US$2.41bn) – for the country's 733m farmers, and to increase rural infrastructure investment. Wen also committed RMB3bn (US$362.5m) to new mine-safety measures to reduce accidents.
With only two abstentions, 2, 896 deputies attending the annual session of the National People's Congress also passed China's Anti-Secession Law, which so far as Beijing is concerned, provides the Mainland with the legal means to use force should Taiwan declare independence. The law, which was immediately signed by President Hu Jintao, took immediate effect.
The anti-secession legislation drew criticism in Washington, which Wen dismissed as irresponsible, and a larger than expected mass demonstration in Taipei.
Hu reiterated that the Mainland would pursue reunification by peaceful means, but said China would "never tolerate Taiwan independence."