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BEIJING - Anyone trying to keep track of China's development could have learned a lot in the past nine days of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, which concludes Wednesday.
As the last session for the current government and the most important political event ahead of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), when a leadership change is expected, the meeting is an important juncture along China's development path.
It was at this meeting that China, a global economic powerhouse, lowered its annual economic growth target below eight percent for the first time in eight years, setting the target at 7.5 percent for 2012.
Against the backdrop of fragile economic recovery in the United States and the sluggish European economy, the lower target has raised concerns, but China is not apologetic.
The country set the lower rate to handle the volatile and complex global economy and to speed up the transformation of its own growth mode, eyeing more sustainable and high-quality development.
Moreover, the target remains the highest in the world and is one accompanied by goals in areas such as industrial upgrading, economic restructuring, and environmental protection. And all of these goals have specific supportive policies.
"This session shows that China's economy will not only continue to grow but will also improve the quality of growth," said Ma Xiuhong, a political advisor and former vice commerce minister.
Analysts widely agree that the adjustment is beneficial to the world as well as to China, because in the long run, such an adjustment will reduce pressures on the world's resources and environment, expand China's consumption and raise its imports, which will create more jobs for other countries and realize and maintain the balance of international payments for China.
The world's major media has embraced the lowered target as a positive sign. A report on the website of the Los Angeles Times said it sent a message to central and local policy-makers that development must be more balanced. Japan's Asahi Shimbun said that the stable growth of the Chinese economy will positively influence the world economy in the long run.
China also used the legislative meeting to tell the world about the country's stability.
For starters, this is a good thing for global investors. Quite a few places throughout the world are currently navigating turbulent waters, but China has forged ahead at a stable pace on the path of the socialist market economy, reaping an average 10-percent annual growth rate for years. This could not have happened without stability, and this will, in turn, lay the foundation for China's continued growth.
It's true that China has entered a conflict-prone phase and has seen some mass incidents, but this has not disrupted overall stability, as the country's stability is based on many grounds. The foundation for the CPC's governance is strong and firm, long-term economic growth is expected and people are genuinely supportive of the reform and opening-up drive. Moreover, they are the beneficiaries of the country's economic development.
It's equally true, however, that a lot of problems are awaiting solutions at home and discontent exists among the people. Meanwhile, the outside world worries that China cannot sustain its growth and it may stagnate.
February 21 marked the 20th anniversary of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's landmark speeches he made while touring southern China, which further pushed forward the reform and opening-up drive and led to the official declaration of a socialist market economy in China later that year. Many took the occasion to issue calls for deepening reform, one of the most talked-about and far-reaching issues during the legislative meeting.
In fact, this is another message from the legislative meeting: a consensus on deepening reforms has been reached and the reform, which began 30 years ago, has entered deep and rough territory, where not advancing means falling back.
"Reform and opening-up are the right choice we made for China's destiny and future... [We will] boldly explore new methods; continue to promote all reforms, including the reform of China's economic and political systems, with greater resolve and courage," Premier Wen Jiabao said in the government work report delivered at the opening of the meeting.