As Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao reports to the Party's 17th National Congress this morning, his audience will not only be the 2,200 delegates representing the 73 million CPC members.
The world is listening, too, trying to feel the pulse of present-day China.
To know where the country will be heading next, there is no better venue than the CPC's once-every- five-year national congress. From the idea to reform and open up, to the call to build a harmonious society, actually all major policy initiatives that have contributed to transforming the country's political, economic and social landscapes have derived from the CPC's proposals.
Guidelines set in the report General Secretary Hu delivers on behalf of the Political Bureau will orient and pace not only the Party's, but also the country's steps in the years to come.
The just concluded 7th Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the CPC was a signal that today's CPC meeting will concentrate on how to sustain the favorable momentum, and to press ahead with set goals.
There is no denying the Party has chosen a smart path for the country, and for itself. Its choice has been corroborated by real-world successes. Just as Hu and his colleagues have hoped, our economy is growing in a "sound and fast" manner, and harmony has become a shared dream society-wide.
But the past five years have also exposed problems not seen, or not conspicuous previously. Wealth gaps, as well as the environmental consequences of single-minded pursuit of growth, are brewing grim worries in both the public and decision-making circles.
The CPC has demonstrated impressive sophistication in coping with challenges.
It will be interesting to see what it prescribes for the new conundrums it faces. Such prescriptions are essential, given that there is only 14 years to go before the Party's deadline to build the country into an "all-round well-off society".
If you are also concerned about how the CPC positions and orients itself in the new circumstances, pay attention to the revision of the Party Constitution. The last national congress incorporated the "Three Represents", a proposal for the CPC to represent people's interests and advance with the times; the one before that adopted Deng Xiaoping Theory as the Party's guiding ideology.
The new leadership has a rich stock of new ideas about national development as well as Party building. There will be useful clues as to which ones end up being written into the charter.
(China Daily 10/15/2007 page4)