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Zhang Yesui - who is vice-foreign minister and was Chinese ambassador in the United States from 2010 to 2013 - made his debut at the Great Hall of the People at a briefing ahead of the National People's Congress.

China, the world's second-largest economy, aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a network of highways, railways, sea lanes and ports under the Belt and Road project. China has sharply criticized the U.S. move on tariffs, saying it would hurt the global economy.

The meetings together are called "Liang Hui", or the "Two Sessions", and will be the first national assemblies following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October a year ago, at which the country's new official political doctrine, known as "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era", was enshrined in the CPC Constitution.

US President Donald Trump has proposed a military budget that is the largest since 2011 and focused on beefing up the country's nuclear defenses and countering the growing strength of China and Russian Federation. "President for life. And he's great", Trump told Republican backers gathered last Saturday at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate, CNN said, citing a recording of his remarks.

"He's now president for life", the 71-year-old USA president said, eliciting chuckles from the crowd of Republican donors.

The US Embassy in Beijing didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the status of trade talks.

China's defence budget takes up a smaller share of its gross domestic product and national fiscal expenditure compared with major world countries, he said.

"There is a fundamental difference", said Zhang Yuyan, a national political advisor, refuting some western media reports that equated China's overseas infrastructure deals and industrial cooperation with neocolonialism.

"We will promote the ready acceptance of the leadership of the CPC among all political parties, social groups, and people of all ethnic groups and from all social sectors that participate in the CPPCC, and firmly uphold the core position of General Secretary Xi Jinping", he noted.

The move is widely seen as the culmination of the 64-year-old Xi's efforts since being appointed leader of the ruling Communist Party in 2012 to concentrate power in his own hands and defy norms of collective leadership established over the past two decades. "Xi Jinping is feared within the party", said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

China said the amendments are "conducive" to the modernization of its socialist model, to mirror the charters of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army, both also headed by Xi Jinping, the country's president.