On the eve of this year's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and National People's Congress (NPC) - scheduled to open today and Thursday respectively - the Xinhuanet.com website has released a series of topics likely to dominate the two session's agendas. They include:
The 8 percent growth rate
With the global financial crisis still yet to fully unfold, how to expand domestic demand and maintain a comparatively rapid economic growth is expected to top the agenda. To deal with the global economic slowdown, China has adjusted its macroeconomic policy from preventing an overheated economy and excessive inflation to focusing on expanding domestic demand and maintaining the 8 percent goal.
Although gloomy economic prospects at home and abroad pose severe challenges to such a goal, the country will still resolutely strive to realize it. Only a rapid economic growth can help ease the country's growing employment pressures and solve increasing social problems. It is widely expected that NPC deputies and CPPCC members will conduct extensive discussions on the country's $585 billion stimulus plan and programs to rejuvenate 10 industries, as well as on how to boost slackened domestic demand, especially rural.
The issue of employment
How to promote a steady employment market is also expected to be a prominent topic. The ongoing international financial tsunami has placed China under unprecedented employment pressures. As more enterprises and companies rush to cut staff numbers, creating employment for tens of millions of unemployed migrant workers, six million graduates and newly created urban labor forces remains a particularly thorny issue.
To deal with such challenges, the central government has adopted a series of policies, ranging from its enormous plans for investment and industrial rejuvenation to encouraging employers not to cut off workers. The government has also taken a series of preferential measures to help graduates and migrant workers find jobs.
Medical care system reform
Relevant authorities made public long-expected medical care reform programs last October to solicit public opinions. The package, involving public health and medical services, medicine supplies and medical guarantee, has mapped out a basic blueprint for the country's medical care network. According to the package, an all-inclusive medical care system covering urban and rural residents, migrant workers and college students is due to be set up in three years.
Whether the new medical care program can solve people's medical problems is expected to be discussed by CPC deputies and CPPCC members.
Social security system
In context of the global financial crisis, how to improve the country's social security system remains key to expanding domestic demand. Decades-long weak social security coverage has increasingly proved impotent in meeting the ever-increasing mobility of the country's populations. Whether systemic reform can achieve a breakthrough on the heels of the country's enormous stimulus package remains a top concern.
Internet polls have indicated that the country's fight against corruption and its commitment to push for a clean government has long attracted public attention. With the deepening of reform and opening up, corruption has become more frequent and more complicated. Thus this needs accelerated measures to close loopholes. The establishment of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention in September 2007 and the central government's promulgation of its 2008-12 anti-corruption program last June, indicate the country's anti-corruption determination. It is widely believed that the lack of a sound monitoring system serves as the key to the frequent occurrence of corruption cases.
The final settlement of the Sanlu tainted milk powder case has given the country's milk industry a chance to regain public confidence.
However, the public is expected to pay increasing attention to the issue of food security as their living conditions and awareness increases.
How government departments and food manufacturers adapt management and manufacturing to the new development is expected to be a heated topic among NPC deputies and CPPCC members.
Due to the influence of the ongoing financial crisis, the incomes of farmers are expected to decline this year. However, a steady growth of farmers' income is closely related with the country's success to boost domestic demand. To fend off the impact of the crisis, the central government has promulgated a series of policies and measures to increase subsidies to agriculture in an effort to stabilize grain prices and increase farmer's income. At the third plenum of the 17th CPC Central Committee, the central government vowed to double farmer's income from last year's base by 2020. However, this ambitious goal beckons viable proposals from NPC and CPPCC participants.
To ensure the smooth realization of the country's economic goals mapped out in the 11th Five-Year Plan, investment and export-driven economic development is badly needed. Discussion of this in the context of the global crisis will feature prominently during the two sessions.