As China's reform and opening up deepens and our socialist market economy develops, a profound change has taken place in the country's economic structure - the emergence of a new social strata.
On the basis of uniting the workers, farmers and intellectuals, we should rally the new social strata around the Communist Party of China (CPC), give full play to their initiatives in building socialism with Chinese characteristics and in realizing the great cause of rejuvenating the nation.
This is a requirement for building socialism with Chinese characteristics, to unite with members of the new social strata. History has proven that the interests of the vast majority of people, the initiatives and creativity of the whole society and nation are the most decisive factors in the development of the great cause of the Party and the nation.
The new social strata comprise technologists in private technology firms, managers in foreign-funded companies, the self-employed, entrepreneurs, employees in brokerage firms and freelance professionals. Under the guidance of the Party and the government, they have made important contributions to the country's social economic development through their honest labor and work and lawful business operations.
It is estimated that more than 150 million people are part of this strata, and control or manage a cumulative capital of 10 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion), contributing directly or indirectly about one-third of the country's tax revenue. The private sector, which accounted for less than 0.1 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) in 1979, now has a proportion of one-third of the GDP, or even more in some regions.
Since the country adopted the reform and opening up policies, about 70 percent of the technological innovations, 65 percent of domestic invention patents and 80 percent of new products are from small and medium-sized enterprises, in which over 95 percent are non-public enterprises.
The new social strata have contributed to public welfare causes, such as poverty alleviation, through various forms including donations, technical assistance and investment. For example, the Guangcai Program, founded by private entrepreneurs looking to alleviate poverty, has implemented 15,400 projects with a total capital of 124.7 billion yuan and trained 3.73 million people.
The non-public sector has created more than 6 million jobs annually in recent years, or about three quarters of the total new jobs that appeared during the period, which has effectively eased the employment pressure faced by the country.
The new social strata have become an important force in China's social economic development.
The strata, derived from workers, farmers, cadres and intellectuals, are a new field of the Party's mass work. On the one hand, many of these people are well-educated, have strong professional knowledge, wide areas of activities and social contacts. They are just where the Party can concentrate its efforts to unite forces of different quarters. On the other hand, the new social strata have emerged in a rather short period with complicated compositions. The qualities of their members are uneven. Some of them still have various shortcomings, such as lack of credibility or social responsibility. Some have a vague understanding of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
It is a pressing and vital task to guide the sound development of the new social strata, unite them on an extensive scale and give full play to their initiatives. The wide participation and support from the whole Party and society is needed to fulfill this task. In the national conference on united front work held last July, President Hu Jintao pointed out that the new social strata work should be done according to the guidelines of "full respect, extensive contact, enhancing solidarity, sincere help and active guidance".
"Full respect" means to respect the labor and creation of the new social strata, respect their enterprising spirit in the market economy, recognize their active contribution in developing productivity, expanding employment, providing tax revenues and enhancing the strength of the nation.
"Extensive contact" means to increase communications with members of the new social strata to know about their thoughts, care about their interests, provide smooth channels for their opinions and expand their rational political participation.
"Enhancing solidarity" means to make friends with members of the new social strata, and bring their functions into play.
"Sincere help" means to complete and implement related laws and policy measures, coordinate in service work, protect the legitimate rights and interests of the new social strata in an effort to protect and arouse their initiatives and creativity so that the factors of production owned by them, such as capital, technology, labor, management and information, can be better utilized.
And "active guidance" means to guide the members of the new social strata to be patriotic, devoted to their work, honest and law-abiding, educate them to bear in mind where their prosperity comes from, to instill the spirit of enterprise, and consciously fulfill their social responsibilities to be qualified constructors of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics.
The strata are mainly composed of non-public business people and freelance intellectuals, mostly working in new economic and social organizations. Thus to better the work on the strata, new methods that fit their characteristics and are more acceptable to them should be explored.
The author is director of the Research Department with the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee
(China Daily 10/16/2007 page9)