Beyond numbers

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-19 09:04
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Statistics are more important in provoking people to think than they are confirming a development that few have any doubt about. When news comes that China's total economy is overtaking Japan's, there is little celebration in this land, not even on the often seemingly nationalistic young people's Internet forums.

According to data given by the Japanese authorities, it is reported that, in the second quarter of the year, Japan's GDP was worth 1.29 trillion dollars, while China's was 1.34 trillion dollars.

This means that, if the trend continues (and there doesn't seem any force to interrupt it), by the end of the year, the size of Chinese economy will replace Japan's as the world's second largest.

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But for the citizens who lost their family members and houses in the recent landslide disaster, for those who are busy placing their donations with aid and charity organizations, and for a government still to complete its task of building both the economy and social security umbrella for people in extensive areas in Western China - including those with multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds - a large GDP figure, impressive as it is, bears little importance in practical terms.

The fact is, as many argue in the Chinese media, China's achievements in social and economic development, as yet, are far from enough to create the harmonious middle-income society to which it aspires.

Despite independent figures showing remarkable changes, and some scare-mongering international reports about Chinese military power, the truth is, the nation is still concentrating on helping the poor and preserving its environment, so that the quality of life can continue to go up for all its people.

Primarily through its own hard work, China has turned out so many big-number results in the last decade or so, such figures are only to be expected. But fortunately, this country has cool-headed leaders, and its people know there are lists in which China is ranked lower than many developing countries. We have no time to be intoxicated by big numbers. We just have to continue our practical work.

(China Daily 08/19/2010 page8)