The Chinese leadership has made big promises on the environment and poverty at the opening of parliament – the National People’s Congress – in Beijing. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao also pledged greater support for education and health. His budget priorities reflect Beijing’s recent focus on shifting spending to social programmes. They were neglected while the communist government concentrated on boosting investment and trade. That has fuelled unprecedented economic growth in the country but not all have benefited. The Prime Minister made a further commitment to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Analysts question whether all these goals can be achieved.