Researchers predict modernizaton progress
By Jia Hepeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-09 05:33
China will have to make tremendous efforts if it is to become a moderately
developed country by the middle of this century, according to experts.
He Chuanqi, director of China Modernization Research Centre under the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, told China Daily yesterday it had only a 6 per cent chance
of making the target by 2050.
He based his calculation on China maintaining its current annual economic
growth speed of more than 9 per cent and the rest of the world keeping its own,
lower average speed of growth.
He made the remarks after his research team published the China Modernization
Report 2006 on Tuesday.
Moderately developed countries are evaluated in terms of per capita revenues,
social development levels and the application of science and technologies rather
than just economic growth. Some concrete indices include an 80 per cent
urbanization rate, car ownership of 50 per cent, 50 per cent of suburbanization
among city residents, medical insurance coverage of 100 per cent, a minimum
average monthly salary of US$1,300, and an average 17 years' education
To become such a moderately developed country, China has to move 500 million
rural residents to cities while relocate 600 million urban residents to suburbs.
Education is another challenge. So far, many developed countries have
popularized a 17-year education, which includes primary, middle and high schools
as well as colleges. But China is still struggling to make a nine-year education
accessible for all people.
China's labourers also number about 700-800 million,
close to the total population of the developed countries. To be a moderately
developed country, 50 per cent of them will have to be classed as higher
skilled, knowledge-based workers while the current level is less than 10 per
The modernization research team led by He recommended 10 major suggestions,
which include popularizing free compulsory education, eliminating absolute
poverty and shortening the intellectual gap between social strata. "We must
reconsider our development route to tap a new, untraditional path in our way of
moderation," He said.
Commentary: Sober mind needed
The spotlight is on an inspiring annual report on China's modernization
issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.
However, the stir the report creates will unlikely last long unless its
grandiose suppositions can be proved by facts.
For now, the report is raising eyebrows because of the promises it puts
It predicts that by 2050, the country's minimum monthly personal income will
be equal to more than US$1,300 at 2002 prices.
That, at least, means income will increase by more than 10 times for city
dwellers and 30 times for rural residents respectively in less than 50 years.
Though an annual income of about US$15,000 is nothing remarkable in an
industrialized country even today, it will be a tremendously huge stride for
China, given its world largest population and low starting wages.
By projecting such an affluent society in the long term, this modernization
report has well-catered to the nation's desire to continue its growth momentum
and achieve greater prosperity.
After more than two decades of rapid economic growth, the country
successfully accomplished its initial modernization goal of quadrupling its GDP
(gross domestic product) from that of 1980 by the end of last century.
Consequently, the overall living standards of the masses have substantially
improved. But meanwhile, a widening income gap has emerged, causing so many
social problems that the country can not afford to shy away.
The new modernization report has depicted a future in which the national
economy will grow so much that the income disparity will hardly matter.
The implication of stressing a triple-digit income growth for every worker,
if that is what the minimum monthly income means, is there will be enough money
Tantalizing as it is, nevertheless, the report has conspicuously failed to
come up with detailed measures to bridge the gap between reality and promise.
This is not to say the report fails to grasp China's challenges. The report
identifies the two critical social transformations the country has to undergo.
China will develop from a rural country to an industrial one and then to a
knowledge-based society in 50 years.
Also, by expanding its focus from economic modernization to social
modernization, the report demonstrates a deeper understanding of the meaning of
modernization in a country that is trying hard to build a harmonious society.
But the recognition of tasks does not justify jumping to conclusions,
especially when such judgments are supposed to help map our future.
An author explained to the press that the report was not a roadmap, but
rather a "canal map" for the country's development. In other words, the goal is
clarified, and the path and means to achieve it would be changing and fluid,
just as water flows.
An interesting argument, but it does not answer to the doubt cast on the
report's assumption that China will maintain its average 9 per cent growth rate.
Optimism is needed to encourage the nation to pull together. But an overly
optimistic forecast neither guarantees desirable results nor helps fix current
To provide a meaningful and convincing guide for the country's future
development, we must display prudence in both reckoning the challenges and
seeking the solutions.