Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, March 13, 2004

Counsellors discussing national affairs

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top advisory body, concluded its annual session in Beijing on Friday. The following are excerpts from speeches by CPPCC members on current issues.


The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top advisory body, concluded its annual session in Beijing on Friday. The following are excerpts from speeches by CPPCC members on current issues.

Sharing R&D

Luan Enjie: Scientific and technological resources should be shared to play a maximum role.

Due to separated management of research and development (R&D), duplicated construction projects prevail and resources could not be taken a full use, despite insufficient input into R&D.

Statistics show that in developed countries, utility rates of equipment could reach 170-200 per cent. In China, however, the rate was less than 25 per cent.

Many reasons are leading to dust gathering on China's R&D equipment.

A lack of co-ordination is the first reason. On one hand, different institutes vie for resources and set up projects for purchasing the same kind of equipment. On the other hand, due to insufficient funds, they fail to buy the whole set of supplementary spares. So equipment is less effective without input for maintenance.

And now there are no special regulations to require institutes having the country's resources to share their equipment and ensure those resources are put to their fullest use. So most institutes have no enthusiasm or sense of responsibility to share.

The government should add a plan of sharing R&D resources into the medium- and long-term plans of developing science and technology. A management system and a special department should be set up to co-ordinate these efforts.

Peking Opera loved

Sun Ping: Education of Peking Opera should be added into the school curriculums of students.

As the essence of Chinese traditional arts, Peking Opera contains many artistic elements, including literature, fine arts, music and dance.

Spreading and developing Peking Opera among the public, especially among teenagers, is helpful to the drive of cultural modernization and the development of Chinese traditional culture. And teenagers will also benefit from such education.

Basic education of Peking Opera is an all-around vivid education, as well as artistic cultivation for teenagers.

Through this kind of basic education, many Peking Opera artists and theatre goers can be cultivated, thus revitalizing this ancient art. With the globalization of the economy, China's market is being flooded with Western popular arts. Chinese traditional arts, like Peking Opera, are suffering. So setting Peking Opera as a curriculum is an orderly and gradual way to develop it.

Further tax reform

Wang Changde: The tax-for-fee reform being carried out in China's rural areas has eased the burdens on rural residents remarkably in recent years. However, there are still problems to tackle after the reform went through pilot projects in some provinces.

One of the most noticeable problems is that the new standard of collecting taxes is not reasonable enough, causing unequal tax loads for farmers.

After the reform, the fees and taxes related with rural education, special products and slaughtering animals are being written off or cut down. Agricultural taxes are collected according to the area of land and the average output of the land.

As a result, farmers, especially those growing grains and other agricultural produce, are seeing increased taxes.

Farmers whose major income sources are salaries in township enterprises or urban areas can have significant decreases in taxes and fees, though they enjoy the same benefits from infrastructure, education, medical services and governmental services sponsored with taxes.

On the one hand, it will encourage excessive labourers to take non-agricultural jobs in rural areas or even seek employment in cities.

On the other hand, this situation could raise the production cost of grain, which will probably make farmers give up growing those crops, hence worsening the competitiveness of the nation's agricultural produce in the international market or even the grain security of the nation.

The new tax collection standards have also produced obvious regional disparity: areas focusing on agricultural production, like in Northwest and Central China, are seeing a larger rise in agricultural taxes than areas focusing on non-agricultural sectors.

Current reform plans, which have raised the rates of agricultural taxes, are only temporary measures rather than a fundamental cure to rural problems.

In the long run, a tax system giving different treatment to rural and urban residents should be eliminated. Taxes that should not be handed in by rural residents should be lowered or cancelled altogether. The Chinese Government has announced plans to rescind agricultural tax in five years.

For now, the Chinese Government should try to offer more fiscal support to less developed areas to balance the regional disparity.

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