17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
Hu Promises More Open China in Future

Chinese leader Hu Jintao pledged Monday to make the communist government more open and responsive, while moderating the juggernaut economy to produce balanced and environmentally friendly growth.

Opening a pivotal Communist Party congress seen as a major test of his political strength, Hu outlined policies intended to make China more prosperous and stable by raising incomes and improving the party’s hold on a fast-changing society.

While offering few specifics, Hu said Chinese citizens would have “more extensive democratic rights” by 2020, China’s target year for establishing lasting economic security, even as the Party retains its monopoly on political power.

“Contemporary China is going through a wide-ranging and deep-going transformation. This brings us unprecedented opportunities as well as unprecedented challenges,” Hu told the more than 2,200 delegates gathered in Beijing’s massive Great Hall of the People for the meeting, held every five years.

Hu pledged to cut pollution, reflecting mounting worries about the environmental costs of a boom that has left China with some of the world’s dirtiest air and water.

Beijing will “promote a conservation culture by basically forming an energy- and resource-efficient and environmentally friendly structure of industries, pattern of growth and mode of consumption,” Hu said.

He also promised to continue a buildup of China’s military, emphasized Beijing’s preference for a peaceful settlement with rival Taiwan and pledged to use the country’s economic and diplomatic clout as a force for peace internationally.

In his report to the congress, Hu dwelled on his signature policy, a push to re-channel breakneck development by spreading the benefits of economic growth more evenly.

Hu referred to the social divisions that have erupted from fast growth — gaps between rich and poor, urban and rural — and made an oblique reference to an emerging, demanding middle class.

“There are still a considerable number of impoverished and low-income people in both urban and rural areas, and it has become more difficult to accommodate the interests of all sides.”

In looking outward, Hu reiterated an offer to end the hostilities between China and Taiwan since their separation amid civil war 58 years ago. Hu, however, restated a condition for talks that has been anathema to Taiwan’s democratic government — that the island must recognize that it is a part of China.

Hu reveled in the achievements China has made since he took over, pointedly referring to income growth and its two manned space missions.

“During this period, China’s overall strength grew considerably and the people enjoyed more tangible benefits. China’s international standing and influence rose notably,” Hu said.

(The St. Petersburg Times)




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