17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
Delegates Assess Five Future Challenge

The Communist Party of China (CPC) always keeps vigilant. This can be seen by referring to Chinese President Hu Jintao's report to the 17th CPC National Congress stating that "we must stay prepared for adversities in times of peace, be mindful of potential dangers"; "this brings us unprecedented opportunities as well as unprecedented challenges"; and "we must always remain sober-minded."

The report realistically analyzed the difficulties and problems cropping up in China's development path. A lot of delegates to the congress have reached a consensus that there are five notable challenges China faces today.

Environment Woes

In 2006, China contributed 5.5 percent of the world's GDP but this contribution was derived from colossal inputs of energy, mainly coal, steel and concrete.

Water pollution has recurred; the episodes of the Songhua River and the Taihu Lake crisis are two examples. China's environment is reeling and posing an acute threat, with some areas even seen as beyond repair.

"Energy saving and environmental protection demand our immediate attention and management," Wei Jiafu, delegate to the Party Congress and CEO of COSCO Group appealed.

Wei added: "The 'enlightened approach to environment' has been brought to the congressional report. Yet it is not easy to put it into practice. We should be determined to abandon blind development and make the air we breathe clean."

During the first half of this year, only Beijing accomplished the task of decreasing energy consumption for per-unit GDP. This means more toughness is necessary to achieve the energy consumption goals slated for 2020.

"The current economic juggernaut defies scientific development rules, undermines productivity and will eventually incur an environment calamity," Fei Yunliang, director of Shandong Development and Reform Commission, stated in a forceful way. "The scientific view of development deepens our understanding of economic development rules. It can guarantee a coordinated development of economy and society."

However, positive initiatives are currently under way to improve macroeconomic regulation. The congressional report proposed adopting fiscal and taxation systems conducive to scientific development and setting up sound compensation systems for resource use and for ecological damage done to the environment.

Wealth Gap

Many delegates argued that a wealth gap is unavoidable in the development process, but it will take a toll when it widens to an alarming level.

Statistics in 2006 revealed that the ratio between regional GDP (east, center and west) was 3.26:1.09:1; Shanghai's per capital GDP reached 75, 990 yuan with its Guizhou counterpart only 5,750 yuan; urban incomes climbed to approximately 12,000 yuan, while rural incomes remained less than 3,600 yuan.

In 2005, the income in the most lucrative industries almost quintupled that in the least ones, reflecting a yawning disparity.

Lian Chengmin, delegate to the Party Congress and secretary of the Municipal Committee of Linyi City in Shandong Province, said that in response to the people's aspiration, the congressional report had made clear the need to narrow the urban-rural and interregional gaps in development, promote balanced economic and social development, and deepen reform of the income distribution system.

Delegate Xuan Ming asserted that northeast China had scored solid progress, but more efforts will be made to catch up with China's east coast. "I believe the Party congress will usher in a more harmonious society with regional gap bridged, and will spawn a crop of new policies and ideas."

Financial Risks under Globalization

We should keep an iron grip on our constantly evolving finances. The congressional report pledged to strengthen financial supervision and control, and to forestall and defuse financial risks.

As the core of the modern economy, financial operations determine the stability of the whole economic system.

The global situation has undergone a fundamental and far-reaching change, with globalization wielding its power to influence every aspect of the world, Liu Mingkang, Chairman of China Banking Regulatory Commission, said.

This year, the subprime loan crisis in the United States hit global financial markets and put a shadow over the growth of the world economy.

"The prevention of financial risks is essential to ensure China's economic security. China has to assimilate the lessons of the Japanese financial crisis and the Asian financial crisis," said Tu Guangshao, delegate to the Party Congress and Vice Chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

China's financial industry is at a crucial turning point and in a potential period of positive development. At present, China is moving into a new stage of building a comprehensive well-off society and further opening up to the outside world. New trends have shown up in the international financial sectors and competition has become increasingly fierce, generating many uncertainties. All of this has brought new challenges to China's financial security. Many financial risks still remain because of the nation's unsound systems, impractical structures, bad management and deficient governance over financial institutions, and imbalanced payments in foreign trades.

As China's further opens up to the world, domestic enterprises are facing fiercer competition from the entry of foreign rivals. And more risks, foreseeable or unforeseeable, have emerged. Therefore, higher requirements are demanded in order to coordinate the domestic enterprises' development with national opening up policies, said Li Jiaxiang, delegate to the Party Congress and general manager of China Aviation Group.

"Close attention must be attached to guard against financial risks, as mentioned in Hu's keynote speech, 'more efforts should be given to setting up a highly effective and secure financial system, raising the competency of the banking, securities and insurance industries.' Hu's speech provides practical guidance to China's financial sectors," Li stressed.

Social Welfare
Any issue concerning the interests of the masses is not a small matter. As China's economy and society has entered a new stage of development, some issues involving the interests of the people's livelihood is loaded with unprecedented concerns, such as the existing problems about labor and employment, social security, education, health, housing supply, work safety, justice and public security, all of which have been given special coverage in Hu's report.

During the discussions, some delegates said that the problems of these issues must be properly handled in a sound way to prevent them from becoming destructive to social stability and harmony. These issues are also obligatory tasks for the ruling party to build a harmonious and well-off society.

These problems, inevitable in a fast-developing economy, have been given close attention by the Party. The government is seeking to formulate solutions for these issues.

"The people-oriented concept is a guiding policy to resolve these problems," said Jiao Xuebai, delegate and director of the Shandong Provincial Bureau of Labor and Social Security. "In Hu's report, great importance has been given on the social welfare issues, which is a specific embodiment of the "scientific outlook on development." It also means that, in the coming years, China will further promote the improvement of social security, employment market, medical care and other public welfare undertakings."

"In Hu Jintao's report to the 17th CPC National Congress, elaborated coverage has been given to depict the blue map of the nation's medical and health cares. The Central Committee of the CPC has attached much attention to address people's Medicare difficulties," said Qiao Shuping, an aged delegate and in-service clinical doctor from Jilin Province.

Corruption exists globally and China is no exception. However, an earlier survey showed that many Chinese people believed that rampant corruption is a major challenge for China's development.

At present, corruption remains serious in some areas, and even some senior and high-ranking officials involved, bringing a bad influence to the party.

"Strengthening party frameworks and enacting anti-corruption campaigns is not only an important part of the Party's construction but also a crucial guarantee for accelerating the economic and social development under new situations," said Fei Yunliang, director of the Development and Reform Commission of Shandong Province.

"All those corrupt officials, no matter who they are, must be severely punished in accordance with the law and without any tolerance!" Hu declared in his work report.

"Efforts of preventing corruption effectively and punishing corrupt officials resolutely are directly related to whether the party can win the support of the people in the future and instrumental toward the survival of the party. Curbing corruption is a major political task of the party as a long-term undertaking," the report pointed out.

"The party report has put anti-corruption campaign in a prominent position, and we need to leverage the spirit of innovation to set up an effective system of forestalling and punishing corruption," said Li Faquan, delegate to the Party Congress and secretary of Jilin Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Greater attention is also needed to strengthen the supervision and inspection system to ensure the embodiment of the "scientific concept on development" in major deployments from the Party administration. It is also crucial to correct any misconduct and wrongful practices that damage the interests of people, Li stressed.

"Power entrusted by the people has to be utilized in the peoples' best interests. To ensure the correct execution of power, it is a must to let power be utterly exposed to the public," Delegate Fei Yunliang said.

It is necessary to strengthen the supervision of all officials in key positions and merge forestalling measures into punishments, thus providing adequate protection to implement the scientific development concept and improve the party's ability of future governance.




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