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Full Text: China's economic, social development plan
Posted: March-21-2008Adjust font size:

6. Substantial progress was made in improving people's lives and promoting harmony.

Positive results were achieved in making the development of education a national priority. A mechanism for ensuring adequate funding for rural compulsory education was implemented throughout the country, enabling 150 million rural primary and middle school students to be exempt from paying tuition and miscellaneous fees and to receive textbooks required by the state free of charge. A fund of 3 billion yuan was allocated from the central government to build and renovate rural boarding schools, improve rural middle school buildings in the central and western regions, and develop modern primary and middle school distance education for rural areas. The goals in the plan to make nine-year compulsory education universally available and basically eliminate illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults in the western region were met on schedule in 2007, with more than 99% of the target population in the country attaining these two goals. The central government allocated 2.1 billion yuan to support construction of practice laboratories for vocational education, demonstration vocational colleges, secondary vocational schools and county-level vocational education centers. New enrollment at secondary vocational schools totaled 8.01 million. The national system of scholarships and assistance grants was further improved and trials were launched to provide free education to students majoring in education at normal universities directly under the Ministry of Education. The secondary gross enrollment ratio reached 66%, and the tertiary gross enrollment ratio 23%.

Figure 8. Counties Reaching the Goals in the Plan to Make Nine-year Compulsory Education Universally Available and Basically Eliminate Illiteracy among Young and Middle-aged Adults

Development of a multi-level medical and health service system for both urban and rural residents was accelerated. The governmental located 2.7 billion yuan to support the development of 2,502 health clinics in towns and townships and 514 county-level hospitals, and supply medical equipment to 11,700 town and township health clinics. Availability of community-level health services was raised to 98% of all cities at and above the prefecture level, 93% of all municipal districts and over 50% of all county seats. Continued improvement was made in family planning work. The birthrate remained stable at a low level and the natural population growth rate was 0.517%.

Development of culture, tourism and sports was accelerated. Work was started to extend radio and TV coverage to every village with electricity and a minimum size of 20 households and to build the fourth phase of the Tibet-Xinjiang Project to extend radio coverage in the western region. Radio coverage now reaches 95.4% and television coverage 96.6% of the country's population. The trials to build multipurpose cultural centers in towns and townships and the project to set up a national shared database for cultural information and resources progressed smoothly. The National Grand Theater was built and put into operation, and work on key cultural facilities such as the second phase project of the National Library of China, the project to build a facility for the National Theater Company of China and the project to expand the National Museum of China was accelerated. Efforts were strengthened to protect cultural and natural heritage sites. The press and publishing, literature and art, philosophy and social sciences all flourished. Infrastructure for key tourist sites in the early history of the CPC continued to improve. The number of domestic and outbound tourist trips grew by 15.5% and 18.6% respectively. Great efforts were made to stage sports and exercise activities for the public in connection with the coming Olympics, development of urban and rural public sports facilities was accelerated and construction of 36 Olympic venues was completed.

People received even more tangible benefits. Per capita net income for rural residents rose by 9.5% and per capita disposable income for urban residents by 12.2% in real terms. Upgrading of the consumption structure was accelerated, consumer spending on cars, tourism, telecommunications and fitness continued to increase, and construction of low-rent housing and commercial housing with price ceilings was accelerated. A total of 12.04 million urban residents entered the workforce in 2007, and the year-end rate of registered urban unemployment was 4%. The number of people covered by the social safety net continued to rise, the number of urban residents covered by the basic old-age pension system increased by 13.41 million year on year and old-age pensions for enterprise retirees were raised by a large margin. The trial of providing basic medical insurance for non-working urban residents was launched in 88 cities, with 40.68 million people receiving coverage, and an urban assistance system for medical care was put in place in 2,461 counties (county-level cities and districts). A total of 730 million farmers are now participants in the new system of rural cooperative medical care and the system now covers 86% of the country's counties. The system of basic cost of living allowances has now been set up in all rural areas of China. Marked success was achieved in efforts to reduce rural poverty through development and give people work in place of relief subsidies, and 255,000 poor people were relocated from inhospitable areas as a poverty relief effort. Inspections were carried out to monitor the prices of pork, grain and edible oils as well as education-related charges, medical costs and housing prices, a campaign to make price information and oversight services widely available was conducted and the framework of a price monitoring service network that covers both urban and rural areas was put in place.

Figure 9. Per Capita Net Income of Rural Residents

Figure 10. Per Capita Disposable Income of Urban Residents

Figure 11. Percentage of Counties Covered in the New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System

Fellow Deputies,

The achievements of the past year were made on the basis of what we have done for years since the reform and opening policy was first instituted. The past five years was an unusual period in which new horizons were opened in all areas of China's economic and social development. Great strides were made in reform and opening up and in efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, new highs were reached in developing the productive forces, increasing overall national strength and improving people's standards of living, and China's international standing was markedly enhanced. In addition, the pattern of economic development saw gradual improvement, the country's potential for development continued to rise, and development continued to become ever more vigorous, making it one of the best periods for development in the country's history and laying a solid foundation for achieving the third-step strategic goals for economic and social development. In reviewing the past five years, we are fully aware that none of these achievements came easily. They are due to the scientific decision-making and firm leadership of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, to the unity and hard work of all local governments and all departments, and to the unyielding efforts of all the ethnic groups in the country.

While acknowledging our successes, we must also clearly realize that many difficulties and problems remain on our way ahead. Internationally, the impact of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis on the world's major economies is worsening, the US dollar continued to fall in value and prices for primary products such as petroleum, iron ore, copper, and grain remain high in the international market and may go even higher. Furthermore, the current imbalance in the global economy is only getting worse and international competition is getting fiercer, while trade protectionism targeted at China has intensified. Domestically, deep-seated problems such as the poor economic structure, inefficient pattern of development and imperfections in systems and mechanisms have not been fundamentally resolved. In addition, China's capacity for independent innovation is still weak, the price of economic growth in terms of resource consumption and environmental impact is too high and urban and rural development, development among regions and economic and social development remain out of balance.

There are also many issues and problems currently affecting economic performance. The most conspicuous ones are as follows:

First, the danger of rapid economic growth becoming overheated growth cannot be ignored. The risk of overheated investment is great, with fixed asset investment rising by 24.8% in 2007, which is still too fast. Many local governments are keen to expand investment, resulting in a large number of newly started projects and projects built in violation of regulations. There is an excessive supply of money and credit. The trade surplus is still increasing.

Second, there are strong inflationary pressures. The consumer price index (CPI) continued to rise, gaining 4.8% for the year and exceeding the 3% target set early last year. Prices for major primary products continued to increase in the international market, directly putting upward pressure on domestic prices. Prices for the means of production are rising ever faster, and housing prices are continuing their rapid ascent.

Third, we are still faced with the daunting task of saving energy and reducing emissions. Heavy industries, especially energy-intensive and highly polluting ones, are growing too fast. The systems and mechanisms and policies measures for promoting energy saving and emission reduction need to be improved, enterprises do not have enough motivation to close down backward production facilities, installment of pollution control facilities is not keeping up with requirements and oversight and punishment are not effective, allowing illegal pollution to remain a common phenomenon.

Fourth, maintaining a steady pace in agricultural development and continuing to increase farmer incomes have grown more difficult. Agriculture as the foundation of the economy remains weak, the difficulty of protecting farmland is daunting and development of agriculture has become further restrained by insufficient resources, environmental impact and market conditions. Moreover, it has grown more difficult to balance supply and demand of farm products, institutional obstacles still make it hard for rural residents to find nonagricultural jobs and efforts to improve public services in rural areas have not made good progress.

Fifth, there are still many problems related to the people's well being that demand our immediate attention. There is considerable pressure on employment, and development of education, culture, health and other basic public services has failed to meet the needs of the people. There are still quite a few problems related to the social safety net, income distribution, housing supply, the quality and safety of products, workplace safety and public security. The disastrous snow and ice storms that have been hitting southern China since mid-January this year have inflicted enormous damage on people's lives and property as well as on industrial and agricultural production, and post-disaster recovery is going to be a daunting task.

We must take vigorous measures and work hard to solve the above problems.

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Source:Editor: Lydia
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