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Editorial: GDP gives way to growth quality

(China Daily)    08:17, January 26, 2015

Instead of giving a specific GDP target for Shanghai this year, the mayor said in his report to the city's People's Congress on Sunday that steady growth will be maintained, the economic structure further optimized and the quality of growth improved.

Not mentioning the GDP target for the first time in more three decades is a sign that the country's biggest metropolis has shifted its attention from the quantity to the quality of economic growth, and how economic growth can bring real benefits to the well-being of residents.

However, this does not mean the municipal government is no longer paying attention to the extent of economic growth, rather how institutional innovation in the free trade zone, innovation in science, the drafting of the plan for economic development in the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20) and specific plans for promoting public services, as well as social security, can contribute positively to residents' well-being.

Shanghai is wealthy and powerful enough to achieve the shift in focus. There is no reason for such a developed city to continue to place GDP growth before the real benefits economic growth can bring to balanced social progress and the quality of life of its residents.

But it is impossible for many parts of the country to follow Shanghai's example given the unbalanced economic development. For the underdeveloped western and central provinces and autonomous regions, the priority at present is how to catch up with their developed counterparts in the eastern region.

Yet, even for the central and western regions, enough attention must be paid to ensure that growth does not come at the cost of environment. It is important the underdeveloped regions inland learn the lessons of their developed counterparts, and they do not blindly follow the development path of the coastal regions, which has been characterized by environmental pollution and a debt to the well-being of local residents.

Especially as it will not just be the degradation of environment that needs addressing in the future, but the waste of all the resources as this will drain a region's stamina for long-term sustainable development.

It would be too much to require the underdeveloped regions to follow the latest example of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, which are in the vanguard of the country's reform and opening-up. But local government leaders must see beyond immediate economic benefits when they draw up their development plans.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Yao Chun)

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