BEIJING — The Latest on the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing (all times local):

2 p.m.

China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, has promised more market opening and cuts in a bloated steel industry that has inflamed trade tensions with Washington and Europe.

The meeting of the National People's Congress is overshadowed by constitutional changes that would allow President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely, but businesspeople and economists also are looking for signs Xi is speeding up reform.

Li affirmed China "will be bolder in reform and opening up" in his nationally televised speech. He specified the manufacturing industry would be "completely" opened to foreign investors and access would expand in other industries, but gave no details.

Foreign business groups complain previous pledges have been diluted by conditions such as ownership limits or requirements to hand over technology that make them unappealing.


10 a.m.

China's finance ministry says the country's defense budget this year will rise 8 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($173 billion).

The figure released in a report Monday to the National People's Congress is an increase from last year, when ministry officials told the Associated Press the budget was rising to 1.044 trillion yuan ($151 billion).

China's defense budget is the world's second largest, behind the United States.

China is preparing to launch its second aircraft carrier, integrating stealth fighters into its air force and fielding an array of advanced missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances.

On Sunday, Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the legislature, said China's defense spending as a share of GDP and the budget also remains lower than that of other major nations.