Wen leaves China better able to face challenges

Updated: 2013-03-06 07:06

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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Wen leaves China better able to face challenges

'The fruits of development should be shared more equitably by all people."

This sentence in Premier Wen Jiabao's last annual Government Work Report was greeted by more than 10 seconds of applause in the Great Hall of the People.

At 8 am on Tuesday, when people were rushing off to work, deputies to the 12th National People's Congress were arriving at the east gate of the hall by coach, to attend the opening session.

Other than paying attention to the economic blueprint, the NPC deputies I talked to also expected to hear about plans to resolve problems related to education, incomes and pollution.

The phrase "7.5 percent" was what most reporters were eagerly seeking when they got their hands on copies of the government's 28-page report, as 7.5 percent is the target for this year's economic growth, the same rate as in 2012.

"We must maintain a proper level of economic growth in order to provide the necessary conditions for creating jobs and improving people's well-being," Wen said.

A fast-enough growth rate can ensure stable employment, while expansion that's too rapid and lacks a rational distribution system will broaden the wealth gap and undermine the basic ecological balance, and everyone will lose.

The Chinese idiom De bu chang shi, which means "the loss outweighs the gain", may now become a warning to all policymakers across the nation before they draw up their next sets of targets.

"We should solve the problems of serious air, water and soil pollution that affect the people's vital interests; improve environmental quality, and safeguard people's health, and give the people hope through our action," Wen told deputies.

"We have formulated guidelines on deepening reform of the income distribution system, and we now need to promptly formulate specific policies to ensure that institutions are established and policies are implemented," he said.

This is the second year that I have covered the NPC. This year, Wen's speech was half an hour shorter.

However, it paid more attention to current problems, listing 13 in all, compared with eight problems last year.

This year's work report said "there are potential risks in the financial sector", pointed out that "the development gap between urban and rural areas and between regions is large", and stated that "social problems have increased markedly".

Wen will step down during the 13-day meeting of the first session of the 12th NPC.

Although he will have left the political arena, one of the legacies of his premiership is that China is better able to face its challenges.

Contact the writer at chenjia1@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 03/06/2013 page8)