China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, commenced its annual 10-day session last weekend. The body is pretty much a rubber stamp, providing a democratic veneer to the decisions of the Chinese Communist Party. The session does shed light on affairs of state, in particular the government’s budget and its economic priorities. In his speech, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao highlighted his concern about rising inequality within China and the dangers posed by expectations that rise faster than the pace of change.

China’s economic juggernaut may be reshaping the global balance of power. The country is now the world’s second largest economy and incomes, both urban and rural, have grown by 9 percent in the last five years; hundreds of millions of people have escaped poverty in China over the last two decades.

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