Deputies of the National People's Congress and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference began to discuss the 11th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2006-10) yesterday.
The programme, after being approved by the deputies when they conclude their annual plenary in eight days, will guide the whole nation's endeavours during the next five years in its pursuit of a better-off, harmonious society.
Based on an analysis of the current situation, the plan appropriately highlighted all the priorities agreed by experts and the general public.
The priorities include development of rural areas and western regions, social development, the building of a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly society, the building of an innovation-oriented society, as well as upgrading the industrial sector and accelerating the growth of the service sector.
The plan gave the issues of rural development, agriculture and the well-being of farmers top priority. This bears testimony to the country's determination to help its 750 million farmers become better off.
Innovation was given a significant position in the plan, an indication of the country's intention to sharpen its competitive edge in sustaining development and to move up the global industrial ladder.
Balance is a key word in the plan.
Almost 30 years of blistering growth have resulted in great achievements as well as imbalances and even damage.
The country is poised to make up for the damage and rectify the imbalances the imbalance between cities and the countryside, the regional imbalance, imbalanced economic structure, the imbalance between economic and social development, and the imbalance between growth and environmental protection.
To address the problems in economic structure, for example, the country will work to accelerate the service sector's growth to rectify the economy's excessive reliance on industries, according to the plan.
Issues such as healthcare system reform and building the social security network would receive emphasis to improve people's quality of life.
To protect the environment, the country will be divided into function zones according to their natural endowments. Categories range from "areas prohibited for development" to "key development areas."
These policy guidelines reflect a holistic approach and address both pressing problems and long-term needs. These implications will go well beyond the 2006-10 period.
Having a good plan is one thing. Realizing it is another.
Some parts of the plan, such as dividing the country into function zones, are still rather sketchy.
Concrete, feasible steps for implementing this part of the plan are needed before any move can be made in this regard. The well-being of the people of the areas designated for limited development or absolute conservation should be addressed first.
Deepening of reforms also took up a chapter in the plan.
In a sense, this chapter is the most important one because progress in all the courses elaborated in other sectors depend on continued reforms and the establishment of new mechanisms.
Debate raged last year on the successes and failures of China's reforms in recent years.
The debates created an opportunity for reflection and correction. But the goals and direction of the reforms - such as those of the taxation system and those of the State enterprises - had already been set before the debates and should not be changed.
What is needed now is to move on.
Source: China Daily