The importance of stability both in a political and a social sense can never be overestimated when it comes to economic development and social progress. What is often over-looked by some is that progress in human civilization is always achieved in a society that enjoys a long period of peace.
No one can tell what will be the outcome of the current political and social turmoil that has erupted in some countries in North Africa and Middle East. But what is undeniable is the fact that people in those countries are suffering.
I don't believe that most of the residents in these countries welcome such unrest, it is only those who can fish in such troubled waters.
Some people have sought to provoke a same turmoil in China. These demagogues harboring ulterior motives have used the Internet to instigate illegal demonstrations or protests. They harbor the vain hope that some Chinese people will be beguiled by their hypocritical slogans into taking to streets and they hope to be able to take advantage of the political and social turmoil to realize their own ambitions.
In striking contrast is the Chinese government's successful evacuation of more than 35,800 of its citizens from Libya. The largest such mission ever attempted by this country, employing both the navy and the air force, would have been impossible had political unrest and social upheaval occurred in China at the same time.
This country has not witnessed such momentum in economic growth and social progress in nearly two centuries as it has since the reforms and opening-up were initiated in 1978. This momentum would have been untenable without the relatively peaceful international environment and domestic political stability during this period.
To be frank, people have grievances about a wide range of issues, including healthcare, the soaring property prices, the widening income and wealth disparity, the unbalanced education resources and serious corruption among government officials. Yet, these are nothing but growing pains that can be addressed in a proper manner. It is natural for such problems to arise in such a populous country as China as the economy undergoes the transition from a planned model to a market one.
It is wrong to imagine that residents with grievances against these growing pains will welcome the same kind of political turmoil that is occurring in North Africa and the Middle East. And it would be naive and silly to believe that such unrest would solve all the nation's problems and bring about a more fair and just society.
In fact, any dissent is more apparent than real thanks to the increasingly open and critical media and the much freer flow of information on the Internet.
In the current annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), NPC deputies and CPPCC members are actively involved in discussions and debates about how some government policies need to be adjusted in favor of letting more and more ordinary residents share the fruit of economic growth and social progress.
Minister of Finance Xie Xuren said at a sideline press conference of the NPC session on Monday that two-thirds of the central government expenditure this year will be used to improve residents' livelihoods and that the issues of healthcare, social security and affordable housing will be addressed. All these suggest that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the central government are concerned about people's well-being and trying their best to tackle the problems that affect people's quality of life.
There is no development and progress that is without problems and there is no government that faces no problems in its governance. What matters is whether a government can listen to public opinion and address the root causes of their grievances accordingly.
All that the Chinese government has done and is doing sends the message that it is a government that is concerned about the people and is striving to give them a better life. In such circumstances, there is no reason for social unrest.
The author is a writer with China Daily.
(China Daily 03/09/2011 page9)