Growth to ride reform

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-06 07:59
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The special emphasis Premier Wen Jiabao has laid on the quality of growth while announcing this year's GDP growth target reflects the government's growing sense of urgency to change the country's economic development model. It is hoped that, by targeting a lower-than-expected growth, the government will be able to use the space so available to expedite reform in crucial areas in order to achieve sustainable development.

Wen told the National People's Congress on Friday that the government was targeting about 8 percent GDP growth this year - the same as last year.

Since the world economy is yet to find a solid footing for lasting recovery from the worst recession in decades, the 8 percent growth target for the world's third largest economy should be the envy of most countries. Yet it pales in comparison to its record of recent years.

Despite all the difficulties at home and abroad, the Chinese economy grew by 8.7 percent in 2009. And now, the country is widely expected to see a double-digit growth just like it did during most part of the past three decades.

Ostensibly, the strong growth momentum the economy has picked up will make it easier to reach that goal. But policymakers have refused to interpret last year's economic turnaround as a fundamental improvement in the situation. Though a massive stimulus package has caused an investment boom, offsetting the loss suffered from the drop in exports, the ultimate goal of China's ongoing process to change its development model is to develop domestic consumption into the engine for sustainable growth. That calls for reform to improve social welfare, healthcare and education, and narrow the income gap, for these are very important to set in motion consumer-led growth.