New plans start in spring
Updated: 2013-03-12 07:51
By Qin Xiaoying (China Daily)
The two sessions now under way will provide the positive energy needed for the new leaders to implement reforms
March sees the return of spring, a season that has been greatly valued by the Chinese since ancient times because of the belief that the work for a year is best begun in spring. It might be this type of traditional thinking that explains China's habitual scheduling of the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee for early spring.
The two sessions now under way, however, differ from their predecessors in several ways.
First of all, the country's new leadership, headed by Party chief Xi Jinping, will be officially endorsed through legislative procedures during the two sessions, officially terminating the period of power transition.
Second, the new leaders will get to learn the latest and most earnest demands of the grassroots populace during the two sessions, a time that is known as "days of democratic politics" because it is a time when both NPC deputies and CPPCC members voice their opinions and suggestions.
On several occasions, both Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang have encouraged ordinary people to speak their true minds and tell their real life stories. This is something that is sure to be repeated during the two sessions, and it will make more room for honest comments and real stories, which will underscore the performance of democratic duties and reduce the space for empty talk that merely echoes the voices from the top.
As a matter of fact, China is entering a new stage of social development after completing a 35-year period of fast economic growth. Because of this, some scholars have expressed concern that China may fall into the same middle-income trap that has been a pitfall for many developing countries in the past.
According to some foreign media, what President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are handing over to Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang is a country filled with hopes and opportunities, but flooded with contradictions and difficulties. To be fair they are right. It is the contradictions that have come to stand out most prominently during the course of the country's growth. China is a society full of different values, interests, public opinions and social groups. Due to this pluralism, people's concerns have become widely different.
For all the differences that exist, however, there are still common concerns and aspirations. These can be conveniently condensed into three reductions: a reduction in environmental degradation and pollution; a reduction in the number of safety loopholes, including those in the food, medicine and transportation sectors; and a reduction in the number of corrupt officials.
It sounds so simple when put like that. But, examined from another angle, these wishes signify a sea change in Chinese society from the early years of reform and opening-up. While people struggled to get sufficient food and clothing during the Deng Xiaoping era, they now yearn for more than just material things and, seeking a better quality of life, they are now targeting political goals as well as economic gains.
People today probably want rule of law and a democratic living space more ardently than people have at any time before in the country's history. They want a clean government that is more self-disciplined and responsible, and more efficient in social administration. In addition, they wish for greater safety secured through legislation and law enforcement; greater happiness through completion of the social insurance system; greater dignity gained through the relentless punishment of corrupt officials and the promotion of equality and justice; and greater identity with the international community, established through rational broadening of governmental, nongovernmental, economic, trade, military and diplomatic channels.
Obviously, the country's new leaders will not be able to satisfy all these demands in one day. But it is encouraging that the new leadership headed by Xi Jinping has been marching resolutely toward these goals ever since they were elected at the 18th National Party Congress. Through his comments on constitutional government, the importance of fighting corruption and improvements in administrative efficiency, and his reiteration of China's unswerving commitment to the path of peaceful development, Xi has already made it clear the new leadership is determined to do something within its tenure. Resolved to seek advice and comments on governance from the people, Xi and his politburo colleagues will surely hope that the two sessions will create some positive new energy for further reforms.
Spring marks a beginning and offers new hope for the future. The two sessions now under way will be, as we see, a prelude of the reforms China will soon put into action.
The author is a research scholar with the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies.