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Policies target resources misuse, wealth gap
In his annual government work report, Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday revealed the country's economic development blueprint in the coming years, nailing down some significant targets and investment plans.
The premier proposed an 8-percent economic growth rate this year and annual growth of 7.5 percent in the next five years. The report also includes a series of investment plans for new countryside construction and science and technology development.
In addition to the report on government work in the past year and this year, a draft outline of the 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Plan for economic and social development, and a report on central and local budgets have been submitted to the Fourth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC) for deliberation.
State and the ruling Communist Party leaders Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun and Luo Gan, together with nearly 3,000 NPC deputies and more than 2,000 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), attended the opening meeting of the NPC annual full session on Sunday morning.
Wang Xiaoguang, a researcher with the Macro-economy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, told Xinhua that the government's 8-percent economic growth target for 2006 and annual growth of 7.5 percent for the next five years signal that China is pursuing steady economic expansion by improving economic efficiency rather than mere economic speed.
In the past five years, China maintained an average 9.5-percent annual economic growth. In 2005, economic growth rate mounted to 9. 9 percent and per capita GDP exceeded 1,700 U.S. dollars.
Despite the optimistic figures, economists pointed out that China's economy has come to a "critical juncture" as the economy excessively depends on heavy investment and over-consumption of energy and resources. China's soaring economic growth has worried experts at home and overseas.
"The government work report and 11th Five-Year Plan are striving to resolve the key issues in economic development through readjusting economic structure, building new countryside and boosting innovation," said Lin Yifu, director of the China Economy Research Center of the Beijing University.
As an important signal of new countryside construction, Wen announced in his report that in 2006 the central coffer's expenditure on agriculture, rural areas and farmers will reach a record high of 339.7 billion yuan, an increase of 14 percent over 2005.
In the meantime, the government will channel more investment to improve rural infrastructure involving farmlands, roads, drinking water, methane facilities, power grids and telecommunications equipment.
"It is a significant change," said Wen in his report.
In the long-term strategy for rural development, Wen promised to set aside 218.2 billion yuan from central finance above normal education allocation in the coming five years to achieve free nine- year compulsory education in rural areas.
"Fulfilling free compulsory education in rural areas should be an important milestone for China's education history," the premier said.
Also in his report, Wen said the central finance will put 71.6 billion yuan, 19.2 percent more than 2005, for science and technology development in 2006.
China will strive to chop down energy consumption by 4 percent in 2006 and reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent in the coming five years, Wen said.
Duan Yongji, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, said that in the past five years, China's economy was spurred mainly by investment and industrial contribution. In the next five years, the national economy will feature coordinated and sustained development on the basis of domestic consumption and innovation.
"Wen's report has sent a clear message: Chinese leaders have a clear picture in their mind about the country's future development, " said Juan Carlos Morelli, Belgian ambassador to China. "Their policies, which are realistic and hit the country's current problems, will change China and influence the rest of the world."