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Innovations needed in implementing scientific outlook

(People's Daily Online)

16:23, August 11, 2011

"Scientific development" has already become a political consensus of the Party members, yet advancing China's scientific development must address the following major issues:

First, local governments have prioritized their GDP growth rather than fully following the idea of pursuing "sound and rapid" development. This is due to the grand trend across the country that local governments at all levels are focusing only on overly rapid economic development, leading to the popularity of hasty and impetuous mindsets.

Despite many serious historical lessons, the potential impetuses to "seek great-leap-forward GDP growth" still exist and even arise whenever there is a chance.

China must keep calm at all times and prevent from being overly hasty. The 12th Five-Year Plan adopted by the central government has reduced China's economic growth target to 7 percent from 7.5 percent of the 11th Five-Year Plan. Nevertheless, only five out of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have followed the lead of the central government to lower their economic growth targets in their 12th Five-Year Plans, preferring "sound development" to "rapid development."

Eight provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have continued to seek high-speed economic growth targets of more than 10 percent; 12 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions set their economic growth targets above 12 percent, including some seeking to double their GDP during the period.

If the local governments set the targets based on the passion of pursuing political achievements, they will not only fail to achieve the targets but also cause new development issues.

Second, China needs to keep a wary eye on interest groups, which have benefited much from the old economic growth pattern. The country is in a period of over-urbanization characterized by severe pollution, increased traffic congestion, overburdened public services and mounting crime. This shows that economic growth is a "double-edged sword" that can promote overall development and aggravate social imbalance at the same time.

Both domestic and foreign studies have shown that economic growth is inevitably accompanied by increasing conflict between government and society; labor and capital; the poor and the rich, as well as between humans and nature. If not properly handled, the increasing conflict in turn will produce serious negative effects on economic growth.

It is true that China faces a reform paradox. The reform is a process of redistribution of interests and wealth. Initial promoters of top-down reforms, which are dependent on foreign capital and markets, tend to become beneficiaries of the reforms at certain stages. The beneficiaries may then form interest groups, and refuse to deepen reforms or let the public share the fruits of reforms. In order to protect and expand their vested interests, they may degenerate into obstacles to further reforms.

Third, China should watch out for some countries' undying hostility of besieging China. After 30 years of reform and opening-up, China now holds an important position in global economic and political structures. However, some Western countries are still vilifying and attacking China using the so-called democratic, human right and racial issues and set many limitations on products made in China in international trade.

We must see that China will be in a negative international environment, especially a negative public opinion environment, for quite a long period of time. This situation is not fundamentally changing as China grows and gets stronger but instead is worsening in some aspects.

All of the aforementioned issues indicate that we must possess the fighting spirit of overcoming any difficulties and obstacles in order to implement the scientific development ideas and plans and realize the great strategic turn in the 12th Five-year Plan. Deng Xiaoping once said that we must carry out scientific development, and we must also dare to fight, dare to triumph and dare to fight a bloody way out.

(The author is the Director of the Center for China Study under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University)

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