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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

Chinese count on legislative meeting to deliver concrete benefits

(Xinhua)

09:58, March 04, 2012

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- With China set to kick off its annual legislative session, many Chinese are expecting lawmakers to take heed of the rising costs of consumer goods, housing and stocks.

Their expectations are well-justified. China's Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew by 5.4 percent year-on-year in 2011, while its benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has fallen below 2,500 points, a dramatic drop from its peak of 6,000-plus points several years ago. Although market cooling measures have helped to rein in the cost of housing in urban China, many low- and middle-income Chinese still believe affordable housing is beyond their reach.

"Vegetable prices are still too high. If the prices of some vegetables keep growing, I will not buy them at all," said Fang Gui, a 65-year-old retiree and resident of Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shannxi Province.

The lives of higher-income groups are being affected by higher prices as well. Liu Mingbing is a mid-level manager in southwest China's Chongqing municipality. "Nearly all of my monthly income is spent on living expenses, commuting, my child's education and housing management fees. I can barely save any money now," he said.

Since the beginning of last year, government departments at all levels have been rolling out various measures to curb price increases while simultaneously working to offset the impact on low-income groups by issuing subsidies.

However, surveys on major websites show that "stabilizing consumer prices" has been a major concern for the Chinese public ahead of the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top legislature and political advisory body, respectively. The CPPCC session opened on Saturday.

Housing prices have also aroused public concern. In 2010, the government began to cool down the skyrocketing housing market with tightening measures that applied to land sales, finance and taxation. Although prices have dropped in many cities since then, buying an apartment remains a daunting challenge for many ordinary Chinese.

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