BEIJING, Feb 25 - Thousands of delegates fromacross the country will gather in Beijing next week for theannual meeting of parliament, where China will announce goalsfor 2021 as well as its next five-year plan for economicdevelopment. Here's what to expect: WHAT ARE THE 'TWO SESSIONS'? The annual meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC),China's rubber-stamp parliament, and the Chinese People'sPolitical Consultative Conference (CPPCC), are known as the "twosessions." The NPC is expected to sit for about a week, beginning onMarch 5. The CPPCC, a largely ceremonial advisory body, runs inparallel. The events typically draw a combined 5,000 delegates andwill be held under strict COVID-19 controls. Last year'smeetings were delayed to May because of the coronavirus. Among the most-watched parts of the agenda are thepresentation of an annual work report for 2021, and the releaseof China's 14th five-year plan, expected to include hundreds ofpages spelling out priorities for the world's second-largesteconomy up to 2025. Votes for new laws at the NPC follow the ruling CommunistParty's wishes and generally pass by overwhelming majority, butdelegates have sometimes departed from the party line to ventfrustrations over issues such as corruption and crime. All citizens older than 18 are technically allowed to beelected to the NPC via votes through lower-level bodies, butmost delegates are hand-picked by local officials. Typically, Premier Li Keqiang and the government's topdiplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, hold news conferences. WHAT WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN THE WORK REPORT? China usually announces its yearly GDP growth target,although last year it did not because of economic uncertaintiescaused by COVID-19. Policy sources have told Reuters there will again be notarget this year, although analysts expect growth may top 8%amid a strong recovery from last year's coronavirus-inducedslump. Targets for inflation, job creation, the budget deficit andlocal government bond issuance for 2021 are expected. China also typically includes a projection for growth indefence spending. Last year it was 6.6%, the lowest in threedecades, although an improving domestic economy and risingtensions, including over Taiwan, are expected by many analyststo spur accelerated growth this year. The NPC is expected to consider changes to Hong Kong'selectoral system to ensure only pro-Beijing "patriots" aregoverning. Last year, a month after hinting at national securitylegislation at the NPC, Beijing unveiled a tough nationalsecurity law in response to months of anti-government protestsin the city. WHAT ABOUT THE 14TH FIVE-YEAR PLAN? A draft of China's blueprint for economic and socialdevelopment from 2021 to 2025 will also be made public, whichanalysts expect to be a vision of a greener, more innovativeeconomy that is less dependent on the wider world. The document will set broad goals for growth, environmentalprotection, technological development, and living standards, tobe fleshed out through more specific plans released later. An average annual growth target of about 5% for the entireperiod is likely to be set, Reuters previously reported, downfrom "over 6.5%" for the previous five years. Encouraging innovation will probably be a key part of theplan, in part to reduce vulnerabilities in China's tech supplychains amid increasing tensions with the United States. The government could also unveil reforms to spur domesticconsumption and self-reliance under President Xi Jinping's "dualcirculation" strategy. REUTERS
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