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1.50am GMT

China’s annual session of parliament will chart a course for economic recovery and unveil a five-year plan to fend off stagnation, as strategic rivalry with the United States spurs a shift to reliance on consumption and home-grown technology, Reuters reports.

The National People’s Congress (NPC) opens Friday, when Premier Li Keqiang will deliver the 2021 work report, which for a second consecutive year is not expected to include an explicit economic growth target, sources have said, due to the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic.

On the same day, China will also release its 14th five-year plan, a blueprint for 2021-2025 that calls for quickening reforms to unleash fresh growth drivers and make the economy more innovative. Sources have said a goal of the plan will be to achieve economic growth averaging around 5%.

China may also set electoral reforms in Hong Kong, where Beijing has been tightening its grip since imposing national security legislation last year after months of unrest in 2019. The reforms will reinforce Beijing’s ambition to have the Chinese territory run by “patriots”, and would further marginalise pro-democracy candidates.

This year’s NPC, which takes place in the massive Great Hall of the People facing Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, returns to its traditional March 5 start after last year’s pandemic-induced delay.

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