Wen stressed the importance of stability and pledged to increase government spending [AFP]

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, delivered a two-hour speech to China's National People's Congress on Thursday outlining measures aimed at tackling a host of issues, in particular, the global economc crisis.

Here are the key points and quotes from his speech:

Economic growth

Wen said China would target growth of about eight per cent for 2009, following an expansion of 9.0 per cent in 2008.

"Maintaining a certain growth rate for the economy is essential for expanding employment for both urban and rural residents, increasing people's incomes and ensuring social stability."

Stimulus package

Chinese officials indicated that the widening wealth gap needs to be addressed [Reuters]
Wen outlined further details of an already-pledged $585bn spending package, but dissappointed many investors by not announcing any further cash.

"We will significantly increase government spending. This is the most active, direct and efficient way we can expand domestic demand."

Fiscal deficit

Wen said the increased spending would push China's 2009 budget deficit to a record $138.8bn.

"Although the deficit will increase significantly this year, the constant drop in government deficits in previous years provides room to issue more bonds this year."

Welfare

Wen said spending on social security will rise 17.6 per cent to $42.8bn, health care spending will jump 38.2 per cent to $17.2bn and the government will spend $6bn on the creation of new jobs.

"Maintaining and improving people's lives is always the starting and end point of our economic work."

Politics

"We will carry out political restructuring in an active yet prudent manner and develop socialist democratic politics."

Military

"We need to make our army more revolutionary, modern and standardised, focusing on enabling it to fully carry out its historic missions."

Taiwan

"In the coming year, we will continue to adhere to the principle of developing cross-strait relations and promoting peaceful reunification of the motherland."

Source: Agencies