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Chinese expect more benefits from new reforms

(Xinhua)    08:10, November 06, 2013
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BEIJING, Nov. 5 -- Comprehensive reforms are expected to be adopted at an upcoming key session of China's ruling party, and citizens expect the reforms to bring them practical benefits in areas ranging from pensions to social fairness.

"Reform brings us tangible benefits," said Zhang Zhiquan, manager of a lamp manufacturing plant in Zhongshan City in southern Guangdong Province, a region that has been at the forefront of the country's opening-up, which started in 1978.

"We often discuss reform and call for substantial steps to make our lives more prosperous," said Zhang, who is from a rural village in central China's Henan Province and came to Guangdong as a migrant worker over ten years ago.

A comprehensive reform package will be put forward at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, scheduled between Nov. 9 and 12 in Beijing.

The session comes amid increasing urgent calls by the public for further reforms in various sectors, such as income distribution, land,pensions, finance and administration systems.

After decades of rapid growth, China's economy has embarked on a new phase of restructuring and upgrading. Meanwhile, problems such as corruption, pollution and a widening income gap are among the public's major concerns.

"The arrow of reform is already on the bowstring. There will be no way out if we refuse to carry out reforms," warned Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute for Reform and Development, a Hainan-based think tank.

Sun Jie, a farmer from southwestern Sichuan Province, works in a restaurant in downtown Beijing. As a migrant, Sun faces identity problems, complaining that he is neither a farmer nor a real urbanite.

The core of the trouble is the "hukou," or household registration system, which is tied to one's place of residence and is used to obtain access to basic welfare and public services. The current hukou system prevents millions of migrant workers like Zhang and Sun from gaining equal access to the services in cities.

In the course of the country's industrialization and urbanization, more than 200 million farmers have moved to cities to seek jobs. Their contracted farmland has been left to their parents, rented to others, or used by governments for construction.

"Reforms should bring about tangible results for citizens. For example, when we see the cancellation of the double pension systems or the fees for selecting schools for children in cities, our sense of happiness will be much stronger," said Yang Lihua, secretary of the CPC branch of a community in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, making reference to the country's different pension systems for retirees of government or other state institutions and company employees.

"Our living standards have improved a lot, but we still have some worries," said Wang Yingchun, a well-digging worker in oil-producing Daqing City in Heilongjiang Province.

Wang said the social insurance system should be on the list of reforms, given the great pressure that single children face in taking care of their senior parents.

The expectations for reforms reflect the public's demand for social fairness.

Private and state-owned enterprises should be on equal footing in using production resources, competing in markets and enjoying legal protection, said Xie Lingquan, board chairman of a private food company in northwestern Shaanxi Province.

Lu Hongyu, a graduate in computer science at Nanjing Normal University, told Xinhua he wanted to see fair job opportunities and denounced those who rely on their parents and relatives for good jobs.

"The demands of different groups vary, but they all want reform," said Wang Tianqi, acting major of Suqian City, Jiangsu Province.

The difficulties of reforms lie in dealing with the vested interests of certain groups and systematic problems, said Wang.

"Vital breakthroughs should be achieved and the relationship between reform, development and stability properly handled," he added. "We should form a national consensus so as to achieve maximum reform dividends."

Fully aware of the difficulty of deepening reforms, the country's new leaders have repeatedly expressed their strong resolve to further reforms and opening-up.

Cabinet restructuring, abolishing a slew of administrative approvals, and a series of economic reforms with the recent opening of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone are among the major reforms of the current government this year.

"It is normal for people to pin high hopes on the upcoming session, as the third plenary sessions boast a tradition of launching reforms," said Xu Yaotong, professor of political science with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

"We have every reason to believe the ruling party will face up to the deep-seated problems and seek reforms at this landmark meeting in order to build a strong nation in a key era of development and handle challenges both at home and abroad with ease," said Xu.

The deep-rooted problems are rather complicated and comprehensive planning is needed, according to Xu. "Greater wisdom and courage are a must for coming up with strong and essential reforms."

"I expect the new leadership will not let the public down," he added.

Zhou Qiren, a professor with Peking University, said the reforms should try to meet the expectations of the young generation, which is becoming society's mainstream.

"I am earnestly looking forward to the essential reform measures instead of mere improvements and adjustments in administration," wrote a Chinese netizen.

(Editor:ZhangQian、Yao Chun)

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