Bridging the gap between the urban rich and the rural poor. It is a key priority for the Chinese government as revealed in the main event of the country’s political calendar. Almost 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress have gathered in Beijing for their annual session where Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said more economic growth and investment must go to farmers and other struggling groups.
He outlined plans for huge increases in spending on agriculture and rural social services. It comes amid growing unrest in the impoverished Chinese countryside. There was no threat of force against Taiwan in the premier’s speech. But, with tensions simmering, the self-governed island that China claims as its territory will be concerned at news that Beijing is to increase defence spending by over 14 per cent. On the sidelines of the gathering, China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing urged Iran to resume talks with Russia and the European Union on its nuclear programme as soon as possible.