China gov't work report draws global attention

10:15, March 07, 2010      

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Foreign scholars and journalists were generally positive in reviewing the government's strategies and outlined the challenges ahead as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's government work report delivered Friday caught wide attention across the world.

Hong Pingfan, chief of the global economic monitoring center of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the year 2009 saw the world mired in the first global economic recession since World War II.

It was against this background that China launched a massive fiscal stimulus package as part of its strenuous efforts to tackle the crisis, successfully achieving 8 percent growth for the year, he said.

"China has not only realized its own economic growth, but also boosted the confidence of other countries to deal with the financial crisis, giving an impetus to the world economic recovery," he added.

Marcio Pochmann, director of Brazil's Institute of Applied Economic Research, said China's achievements were closely related to the government's role.

"Countries that were more able to cope with the crisis and emerge from it were those with an organized government and with public policies adequate to the moment of crisis," he said.

The Chinese government responded quickly, adopting favorable macro-economic policies and asking major state-owned banks to inject capital into the domestic market, he said.

Japanese research fellow Takashi Sekiyama, from the Tokyo Foundation Policy Research Division, said China's home appliance subsidy programs in rural areas and tax cuts on small cars encouraged consumption.

China's stimulus policies contributed to the swift expansion of investment, he said, adding the Chinese economy's vigorous growth had greatly helped the world economy.

Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bernard Dewit said it was far-sighted for the Chinese government to announce the acceleration of the transformation of the economic growth pattern. In the long run, China couldn't develop its economy continuously only by exporting low-end products such as T-shirts, he said, adding China had to produce more high-end products with high added value.

BBC Chinese Director Li Wen said the Chinese government had to change local officials' views on how to evaluate their achievements in their posts in order to transform the economic growth pattern.

The current situation where officials' achievements were mainly linked to GDP and fiscal revenue should be changed so that local officials would not only pursue rapid economic increase, he said.

Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asia Institute of the National University of Singapore, said he was most interested in the work report's approach to people's welfare.

During the 30 years of reform and opening-up, China had relatively ignored social reforms relating to employment, education, medicare and social security, Zheng said.

Investing more in the above fields and solving problems concerning people's livelihoods were conducive to the increase of the middle class in China, he said.

Hou Peishui, editor-in-chief of Philippine daily World News, said a reasonable income distribution system would not only help avoid a big gap between the rich and the poor, but help build a harmonious society.

Only through implementing reforms in the areas of medicare, education, housing and social justice could the Chinese people live a life with more happiness and dignity, Hou said.

UN official Hong said the funding the Chinese government poured into social services was relatively insufficient, especially in areas of education, health care and social security, which was one of the reasons why the consumption level of the Chinese people was relatively low.

The final goal of economic development was improving people's living standards and quality, not increasing GDP, Hong said.

Justin Yifu Lin, senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank, said the Chinese government this year would continue implementing a proactive fiscal policy.

There was still much room for increasing investment in China, Lin said, adding there was further potential for the improvement of domestic demand.

"I believe the goal of 8 percent growth in 2010 in the Chinese economy is possible," he said.

The Japanese researcher Sekiyama said the Chinese economy had maintained double-digit growth in recent years, which depended on strong domestic demand and increased export.

Major difficulties for the Chinese economy this year would be the side-effect of the easy monetary policy, which, if unnecessarily easy, would lead to the threat of housing bubbles and inflation, he said.

Asian Development Bank economist Park Cyn-young said: "Job creation is always the biggest challenge."

Authorities needed to especially strengthen the domestic demand base, and establish a stronger social safety net, so that "the people can feel assured to be able to spend," he said.

"Another challenge that they have to look at is inflationary pressure," the economist said. "We already see some signs in the property market."

Therefore, the government should properly adjust monetary policy to avoid restraining demand due to a rapid rise in inflation, he said.

Tarek El Sonoty, head of the diplomatic section of Egypt's Al Massai daily, said China would face challenges regarding trade frictions and the exchange rate of its currency.

In the long run, China needed to develop clean energy and reduce dependency on coal to control greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Source: Xinhua
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