Call for reform

Updated: 2012-12-17 13:15

(China Daily)

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The annual Central Economic Work Conference, held in Beijing this weekend, can be seen as a bellwether for the new leadership's economic thinking and priorities.

How will they boost domestic consumption, raise the quality of manufacturing and develop the service sector to make the economy less dependent on exports and inexpensive labor?

How will they avoid the policy traps that so many other countries have stumbled into while ensuring economic growth?

How will they build an economy that is not only large in size but also strong in innovation?

And how will they narrow the ever-widening wealth gap?

The new leaders made a solemn commitment to reform in the conference's communique - especially their readiness to show "even greater political courage and wisdom" to push forward reform and open new fronts and fulfill new tasks.

The conference only offers rough outlines for the actions to be taken in the year ahead, they will not evolve into full-blown policies until they are passed by the annual session of the National People's Congress in March.

But it is obvious that the new leaders do not want to keep the public waiting for a much-needed sense of certainty and direction.

In fact, China's Party chief Xi Jinping's recent inspection trip to Guangdong, the southern province that hosted many pilot projects in the early years of reform and opening-up, most noticeably the special economic zone of Shenzhen, had already sent a clear message that the leadership would push forward with reform.

Grown from an impoverished fishing village into a city with a population of 12 million, Shenzhen is a place that evokes the memory of China's first generation of reform leaders and the risks they took to help the nation remove the shackles of an old economic system that did not work.

Xi's message has been welcomed by the nation, and the stock market surged more than 4 percent last Friday. The reaction can also be understood as reflecting society's thirst for news about further reform.

As Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China's modernization once said, reform is the only thing that can help rally the most widespread possible public support. By renewing the call for "courage and wisdom" in reform, the decision-makers have brought extraordinary significance to the just-concluded 2012 Central Economic Work Conference.

They have assured the people that in 2013 they will see new actions.


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