BEIJING, Oct. 12 -- In what domestic media hailed as a "revolutionary re-orientation," the blueprint the fifth plenary session of the 16th Communist Party Central Committee put forward yesterday for the country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) prescribed a mission to pursue balance between sustained economic growth and social harmony.
Undivided attention on economic affairs has proved to be the magic formula that has pumped up the nation's bulging economic muscles.
During the Ninth and 10th Five-Year Plan periods (1996-2005), average annual growth of our national economy was higher than 8 per cent. In 2004, our per capita gross national product exceeded 9,400 yuan (US$1,159) - a target set for the 10th Five-Year Plan period. Now, we are the world's third largest trading body and one of the largest economic entities.
Awe-inspiring account book figures give outsiders the impression that we are already one of the rich nations, though dozens of millions of our compatriots still have to struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet. At home, impatient optimists appear certain about our expected transformation into an "intermediately advanced" country by 2050.
But underneath the misleading cover of GDP figures, we are increasingly dogged by the widening income gap between the rich and poor, as well as the divide between urban and rural areas.
At the beginning of economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping put forward the ground-breaking guiding principle: "Let some areas and people get rich first," and to "ultimately achieve common prosperity."
Some areas and people have become rich - so rich that the country has reportedly become one of the most popular destinations for the world's luxury goods. Good or bad, our spendthrift nouveaux riches have earned a reputation worldwide.
Our new imperative is to prevent society's underdogs from lagging even further behind. If left unattended, income disparities have the potential to derail the country's course of development.
The Communist Party's proposals symbolize a strategic turn towards balanced growth, equal opportunities and social justice. The philosophical change is represented in the ideas of adjusting the pattern of national income distribution and restructuring public finances.
Economic growth is an indispensable element, and sometimes precondition, of social progress. But it is not the whole of development. Many of our current headaches have their roots in our single-minded pursuit of rapid growth.
The Communist Party's decision to look beyond the economy and concern itself more with social harmony is an encouraging sign of maturity essential in mapping out the country's next steps under new circumstances.
We hope the sensible outline the Communist Party meeting has worked out is matched with equally sensible policies from developmental planners in government offices.
"Scientific perspectives on development" and "harmonious society" - the new-generation leaders' contributions to the Chinese political lexicon - should not stay merely on paper or people's lips.
(Source: China Daily)