Full Coverages>China>2005 NPC & CPPCC>Delegates' Focus

Social harmony tops topics among legislators
Updated: 2005-03-04 09:53

Members of China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), are expected to discuss a number of new topics in the annual parliament session beginning Sat urday,though some lingering topics may still catch their attention.

Building a harmonious socialist society, the law to prevent Taiwan from being separated from China, the safety of China's coalmines and the growing income gap between rural and urban residentsare likely the new hot topics for this year's session.

"I think the concept of building a harmonious society reflects progress of the central government in handling economic affairs and in its governance capabilities," said Qiu Dong, a professor with the Central University of Finance and Economics and a deputy to the NPC.

Chinese leaders have on many occasions called on officials to "enhance their capability of looking into major social issues in building a harmonious society."

The "harmonious socialist society" is defined as one that features the socialist democracy, rule of law, equity, justice, sincerity, amity, vitality, stability and order, as well as harmonious co-existence between man and nature, according Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

"(It shows that) the government has begun to pay more attentionto the quality of economic growth instead of quantity," Qiu Dong said in an interview with Xinhua. "What economic growth means to social development has caught the attention of China's top decision-makers."

China has been one of the world's fastest growing economies over the past years. But problems arising from farmers' loss of land, growing disparity in incomes, unemployment, poverty, corruption, pollution and dissatisfaction of the lower-income group have become the major challenges, said Li Peilin, a renownedChinese sociologist.

With the economic power growing year by year, the reunificationof the motherland has become a major concern of the Chinese peopleand the CPC has set it as one of the leading tasks in the 21st century. However, secessionist activities aiming at separating Taiwan from China have been on the rise in Taiwan over the past few years.

To fight and curb the secessionist activities for "Taiwan independence", a draft anti-secession law will be put before lawmakers at the NPC session, and observers widely believe the draft law would be adopted with an overwhelming support from legislators attending the session.

"The NPC initiated the legislative process of the anti-secession law with the sole purpose of containing separatist activities of the forces seeking the 'Taiwan independence'," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao said earlier.

China's deadly coal mine accidents have caused great concern too. Coal mine disasters killed more than 6,000 people last year, according to official figures.

Analysts say coal mine accidents occurred more frequently last year because strong demand for energy resulted in negligence of safety measures. The State Council, China's cabinet, has decided to enhance macro-control of the economy to ease the shortage of energy, and sent out more safety inspection teams to major coal mines.

The call to boost farmers' income has been a hot topic for years, but this year the call for measure to narrow the income gapbetween rural and urban residents has been even stronger.

Premier Wen Jiabao announced last year a number of measures to help farmers, which resulted in a rapid growth of income for the 900 million Chinese rural residents. Official figures show that last year the income of rural residents grew the fastest in seven years.

But the gap between income of rural and urban residents has been widening instead of being narrowed. Currently, farmers' per capita income is about one-third of their urban neighbors.

"The farmers have benefited from the government policy last year, but will those good policy continue this year?" said Xu Dequan, a NPC deputy from central China's Henan Province. He runs a farm produce business in Henan.

"I hope the government will continue to take supportive measures so that farmers can have a bulging money bag and a betterlife," Xu told Xinhua after he arrived in Beijing for the parliament session.

Analysts here agree that anti-corruption, unemployment, environmental protection, reform of state-owned enterprises and poverty reduction, which in a row have dominated discussions for years, will continue to prevail the group discussions of NPC deputies when they deliberate the government work report to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday.

"China has entered a critical stage of socio-economic development," said Li Peilin, a sociologist. "In this stage, to handle properly a number of basic relationship (between economic growth and social development) is of crucial importance for sustainable growth."

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