Since reform and opening up began, the Chinese economy has seen rapid progress and improvement in people's lives. However, the restriction in resources and environment has also been seen; an unreasonable economic structure also restricts further economic development.
Since the 16th Party Congress five years ago, President Hu Jintao has proposed scientific development which places people at the center of development; and achieves coordinated, overall and sustainable development.
For four consecutive years, the central government has issued the No. 1 document on farmers', rural and agricultural issues. For three consecutive years, farmers' income has increased by 6.8%, 6.2% and 7.4% from 2004 to 2006. This was the first time since 1985 that farmers' income had increased for 3 consecutive years.
In terms of coordinated and sustainable development, China began to develop the eastern coastal areas first, then the western region, next northeastern China; and finally central China. China has also begun to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by regulating high energy-cost enterprises.
To completely turn over the sole focus on the speed of development, the central committee of the CPC, led by General Secretary Hu Jintao, is now giving priority to the quality of development over the speed of development.
In the 11th five year plan, China, for the first time, set mandatory goals for energy savings, the environment, population control, social security and the rural medical care system. Economic growth is an expected target. The 8 mandatory goals will help China achieve quality development. 17th Party Congress delegate Ma Kai, who is also Minister of the National Reform and Development Commission, said quality development is also conducive to the readjustment of economic structure for the steady development of the national economy.
A delegate from northwestern China's Shaanxi province said more attention will be paid to coordinated development. That is to say, they will turn away from raw resources and coal to other products such as oil and electricity, so as not to limit their sales to simply raw resources. This way they can get a better value from the same amount of resources.
In the past, western regions would absorb any investment – regardless of whether it was a high pollutant or not. However, they have become quite picky now. Han Zhiran, Party Secretary of Huhhot in Inner Mongolia, said they have shut down many high-energy consuming and heavily polluting projects. Now the biopharmaceutical and dairy industries have become the pillar.
According to delegate Lin Zuoming, China's civil aviation industry must produce its own airplanes with independent innovation.
Delegates have realized that scientific development means the coordination of development among urban and rural areas, different regions; economic and social development; and the relationship between people and nature.
In remote areas, China has executed a far-reaching education policy; and has increased investment in education in Gansu province, in northwestern China, by 7 times from 1991 to 2005.
In Ligou village, in central China's Henan province, Shitong was diagnosed with a brain disease and spent more than 10 thousand yuan ($1,400 US dollars) for his medical care. When he received 5,000 yuan ($700 dollars) in rural cooperative medical subsidies, he was truly moved. "For generations, it has been unheard of that peasants can get subsidies for their medical expenses – the new policy is wonderful."
By the end of June, the new rural cooperative medical care system covered 720 million farmers in China. The gap between rural and urban areas and the lack of social security and public service in rural areas have been a focus for the current Chinese central committee of the CPC and government. China has established 100% compulsory education in rural areas. The minimum guarantee of living subsidies has been provided as well. More and more farmers today receive free training.
Most delegates think that China should not sacrifice the environment for economic development. "We want both the golden mountain and green mountain." Therefore, developing a circular (recycling) economy and clean production is the obvious choice for local governments. Xiao Yaqing, general manager of China's Aluminum Corporation, said it would pay off in the long run if one could recycle and reuse gas, minerals and aluminum. When the environment improves, people's lives will improve. "We can't eat up our ancestors' wealth and block our children's road to survival," said Xiao.
By People's Daily Online