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Seeing from a broader perspective

By Xin Zhiming | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-13 09:00

As an economics reporter covering the two sessions, I have got used to the scenario of journalists bustling around and chasing ministers, economists and businesspeople for a brief interview. Such "chases" happen so often that I had developed the illusion that the top legislative and political advisory sessions were solely about economic issues.

This year, just before the opening of the two sessions on March 3, I suffered an eye problem and was unable to take part in the first week, but this offered me the chance to observe the event from a more detached perspective.

The economy remains crucial in the discussions this year. The economic growth target, for example, has aroused global attention since China's performance will have an inevitable impact on other parts of the world.

But growth is no longer as key an issue as it seemed to be before, and I now have a much greater awareness of discussions on other topics, such as the environment and income distribution. According to a survey by Xinhua News Agency, the top five topics the public care about most during the two sessions are income distribution, real estate price controls, environmental protection, social security and education equality.

Seeing from a broader perspective

Xin Zhiming

Similarly, in a People's Daily survey, anti-corruption, social security, medical reform, employment and incomes, and education equality were the top concerns of the public.

Those surveys show that how the cake of China's economic growth can be shared among its people in a fairer way is more important to the public than the size of the cake itself.

China set an economic growth target of around 6.5 percent for this year, down from the actual growth of 6.7 percent last year. While government officials and economists are optimistic that the target will be met, there have been opinions expressed that China should not necessarily set such a target. In other words, China should tolerate lower growth rates to achieve more sustainable growth.

Reasonable or not, such opinions are a reflection of the reduced importance some economists now attach to growth itself. They have suggested that more focus should be placed on employment, and if employment remains stable, then growth is not something to be worried about.

Such a shift in focus could be felt at the first week of this year's two sessions. For example, in a regular discussion of national political advisers on Thursday, real estate tycoon Xu Jiayin delivered a speech on targeted poverty reduction, not real estate prices.

Xu, a CPPCC National Committee member and chairman of Evergrande Group, a major real estate firm, spearheaded a 3-billion-yuan ($434 million) project last year in an economically less-developed county in Southwest China's Guizhou province to foster local industries to help raise the incomes of local people.

Business is business, but when a businessman does not talk business, this is something really worth taking notice of.

Contact the writer at xinzhiming@chinadaily.com.cn

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