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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 13:44, March 17, 2007
New Social Strata's role not to be underrated
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What contributions China's new social strata are making?

Wang Xiang, chairman of the Minsheng (private) enterprise group in east China's Jiangxi province, has been a member of the three consecutive Chinese People's Political Consultative Congresses (CPPCC). As a member of the new social strata (NSS), he has contributed his due share to society, he told reporters with a sense of pride on the sideline of the Tenth National Committee of the CPPCC, which had ended Thursday.

According to the Political Report of the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) delivered in early November 2002, the NSS has been engendered during the course of reform and opening-up and in the very process of developing the socialist market economy. They comprise people from six categories, namely, pioneers and technical personnel of enterprises run by private citizens, individuals engaged in small-scale businesses, managerial and technical staffers hired by foreign firms, employees from intermediary agencies, and professionals. These people, composed chiefly of economical personages from non-public economic sectors and intellectuals who have careers of their own choice, are scattered far and wide in new economic and social organizations.

Bao Yuzhong, a member of the CPPCC National Committee and president of China's Non-public (private) Economics Research Society, said "the new social strata constitute the outcome of the pluralistic bulk of the market and represent a new productive force contributing to social progress and economic growth, and they should deserve the due recognition and respect from society."

Private enterprises, which number less than 200,000 around China, create over 70 percent of the country's scientific and technical achievements and patented technologies, Bao enumerated. At present, he added, the non-public economy accounts for around 65 percent of China's GDP.

In addition to creating social wealth, enlarging employment, and increasing exports and tax revenue, they spur the development of socialist market economic setup and the democratic legal system, so their role cannot overlooked, Bao noted. The incorporation of private assets into the constitution and the enaction of Property Law, among others, are ascribed to the effort made by elements from the NSS. In a sense, he said, "the size of the new social strata ranks implies whether the setup of Chinese economy is rational or not."

Extent of maturity for new social strata not high enough

The biggest perplexity with the NSS lies in their failure to win an adequate recognition from society, said Bao, and people do not know much about hardships they have gone through, the high prices they have paid for and the unknown risks they have braved in launching and managing businesses. A recent poll released by the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences indicates that most private enterprise owners hold a fairly conservative notion with respect to their own status.

The maturity of NSS cannot be overestimated or overstated, as its life-span is short and their membership mix is rather complex with somewhat stamps left by their environment they have come from and so it is pretty hard for them to shape an uniform outlook on value during the current shift from the old system to the new, Bao acknowledged however. Moreover, a few elements from this sector have tainted the image of their ranks by means of bribery. But he anticipated the NSS will mature gradually in the next one or two decades in a given environment with relatively long-term social stability.

More due attention to ge granted from government

Members of the CPPCC National Committee have emerged from among figures of the NSS since the first session of the Eighth CPPCC, and many private economic sector personnel, lawyers, accountants and managers from overseas firms can be seen in the namelists of top advisory body in all the sessions of the Tenth CPPCC.

Liu Gongqin, one of these CPPCC members and the president of the board of directors of an assets registration co. ltd, as indicated by her business card, is the sole assessor involved in the appraisal of registered assets. With her special positions as a CPPCC member, she dedicated herself to the submission of motions relating to her trade and twice proposed enacting laws in this regard during the just-ended session of the CPPCC National Committee.

As a matter of fact, figures from this sector of social life have pressed ahead with a growing number of applications politically and socially and drawn keen attention of Party and government departments.

This kind of "two-way" attention represents the necessity of development," Wang Xiang said, a large number of talents and returned students from overseas had been detached from China's government institutions to start their businesses or enterprises in the 1990s. With a wiser mindset, a higher education record and a greater political sensibility, they are better able to keep abreast with social progress.

The report at the 16th CPC congress designated them as "builders of the cause of socialism" and, from 2005 on, the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee and other relevant units have sponsored two nationwide appraisals for selection of those excelling in their innovation, and Wang Xiang was picked up as one of the winners.

A great expansion prospect in sight for new social strata

At present, more and more parents in China think of having their children get careers and find jobs in the non-public economic sector, which are deemed as quite right options, Wang noted. In his view, a great expansion perspective is in sight for NSS, whose expansion is still underway.

Bao Yujun endorsed this view of Wang's. People are expected to go on increasing their recognition of the NSS as they have a more and greater role to society. "We should not worry about an increase in the number of such elements in NSS, since they are precisely beneficiaries of the reform and opening-up, staunch supporters of China's current policies and boosters of the reform and opening endeavor, he acknowledged. As far as they are concerned, their sole desire is to hasten the reform and beef up their social recognition in a still more and comprehensively manner.

By People's Daily Online and the author Ye Xiaonan, a noted PD reporter

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