China has made remarkable progress in the past five years. Looking into the future, China is on the threshold of a new history with both challenges and opportunities ahead in the coming five years, according to experts in an interview with Beijing Times.
Following are some comments given by experts on the characteristics of China's development during the 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Plan period.
More serious problem in social equity
Data: China has more than 26 million rural people living in poverty and nearly 20 million urban people living on the government's minimum allowance.
Opportunity and challenge: generally speaking, people are living a relatively comfortable life, consumption continues to expand, creating great potential for economic growth, but the overall income and consumption level are relatively low, China is still at a low and uneven well-off stage.
Comments: Liu Shijin, vice director of Development Research Center of the State Council, said a very important task in the 11th Five-Year Plan period is to let more and more people see and feel the equity in income distribution by policy adjustment. We should not only consider the "outcome equity", but also the "opportunity equality" while promoting equity sharing. Creating more jobs is one of the best ways to alleviate poverty, we must try in every possible way to increase job opportunities.
Resource and environment become bottleneck
Data: China consumed 1.3 billion tons of standard coal in 2000, the figure reached 2 billion in 2004.
Opportunity and challenge: consumption structure upgrading drives the upgrading of industrial structure, China has entered into a new phase of industrialization, a batch of new economic growth points are being formed. However, resource and environment problems triggered by high energy consumption growth pattern and the structural contradictions have been further worsened.
Comments: Liu Shijin said setting up a conserving society and a strict resource protection system should be the top priority. China will implement the GDP energy consumption indicator system this year, which will be an important guidance in promoting China's scientific development.
Rural-urban gap continues to widen
Data: the ratio of per capita disposable income between urban and rural households was 2.8: 1 in 2000 and 3.2:1 in 2004.
Opportunity and challenge: agriculture and rural economic development has entered into a new phase, urbanization process is being accelerated, but the gap between rural and urban residents in enjoying public services such as education and medical care continues to widen, contradictions in rural and urban areas are acute.
Comments: Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the Office of Central Financial Work Leading Group, said that we must balance the rural and urban development if we want all the farmers to benefit from building a new socialist countryside. We should give more support in agricultural development, simply giving more money cannot help, more importantly, we should consider the overall situation of economic development.
Institutional obstacles hinder national economy
Data: the ration of added value created by non-state-owned economy exceeds 60 percent in GDP.
Opportunity and challenge: China's market system has to be further improved, main players of various markets have been further inspired, which has provided new impetus and security to socio-economic development. However, numerous institutional obstacles are still hindering the development of productive forces.
Comments: Liu Shijin noted that the focus should be on handling a series of deep-seated conflicts hindering scientific development by way of transforming government functions; speeding up reform on administrative structure; deepening state-owned enterprises and financial reforms, accelerating price reform to enable market to play fundamental roles in resource allocation.
Heavier pressure on exchange rate
Data: though China has leapt to the world top three in foreign trade volume, foreign trade dependence rate approaches 70 percent .
Opportunity and challenge: an all-dimensional, multi-tiered and wide-ranging opening pattern is taking shape; China keeps closer ties with the world in economic cooperation. Yet the "double-edged sword" effect of economic globalization is playing a bigger role: more and more trade frictions took place; pressures brought about by intellectual property right protection and RMB exchange rate adjustment become bigger.
Comments: Liu Shijin points out that economic growth must be based on domestic demands expansion, but the expansion is not an expedient, but a long term strategy which can ensure a sustained and rapid economic growth. The focus in utilizing overseas market should be laid on the transformation of foreign trade growth pattern especially in quality and level.
Technology innovation still at relatively low level
Data: though China's GDP ranking moves forward, the technology innovation is still at middle and bottom level.
Opportunity and challenge: world technology development has provided China significant opportunities in playing more roles in the future, however, China still has a long way to go to catch up with developed countries. China will have to face up the great pressure that developed countries still have great advantages and inadequacy in technology innovation has increasingly hindered China's development.
Comments: Xu Guanhua, Minister of Technology, has noted that China must rely on its own strength and choose its own way and direction for sci-tech development and set up strategic goals based on its own situation.
A long way to go to promote coordinated development
Data: the per capita GDP in China's western, central and northeastern regions takes up 44 percent, 38 percent and 73 percent respectively of the eastern region in 2004.
Opportunity and challenge: a coordinated, co-developing pattern in China's different regions are taking shape, but there is still a huge gap in compulsory education, health care, social security and other public services in different regions.
Comments: Niu Wenyuan, member of the National Committee of CPPCC said one of the highlights in promoting coordinated development of all regions in the 11th Five-Year Plan period is to formulate corresponding policies and assessment system to make sure different regions develop to their full potential.
Democracy awaits new development
Data: China made hundreds of laws in the past five years, each month saw some one or two new laws being enacted.
Opportunity and challenge: socialist democracy has been further developed, people's enthusiasm in participating in political life continues to go up. However, laws are still not fully obeyed or strictly enforced, impunity still persists, people's orderly participation in politics should be broadened.
Comments: Zheng Bijian, former executive vice president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said that China still has a long way to go in democratic construction. China will from now on actively promote political restructuring; adhere to socialist democratic system; strengthen socialist legal system and reform government decision-making system in order to promote the all-around socio-economic development.
New problems occur in management
Data: China now registers over 100 million netizens, more than 100 million farmer workers and some 100 million surplus laborers in rural areas.
Opportunity and challenge: social structures and organizations are undergoing profound changes, but income gap is widening; for some people, job difficulty is increasing; new contradictions occurred among the people; China faces a series of new problems in social construction and management.
Comments: Zheng Bijian said that China will step up its pace in building up a harmonious society during the 11th Five-Year Plan period. We should put the people's interests as the first priority and truly help them solve problems, especially the most difficult and urgent ones.
Anti-corruption task remains arduous
Data: 13 provincial or ministerial level leaders were punished in 2005.
Opportunity and challenge: although corruptions have been further curbed, it is still conspicuous in some localities and departments, anti-corruption task remains arduous.
Comments: Zheng Bijian suggests that building a clean government and curbing corruption should be a key guarantee in promoting socio-economic development. China will set up a complete punishing and anti-corruption system in the next five years. Supervision on party cadres particularly party leaders should be strengthened, costly "image projects" and "achievement projects" should be resolutely opposed; ostentatious, luxury and other undesirable practices such as buying a position should be strictly corrected.
The article on the 14th page of Beijing Times, March 6, is translated by People's Daily Online