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China set to narrow rich-poor gap
www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-03 08:59:24

    BEIJING, Jan. 3 -- China's economy is likely to be heading for another year of galloping development, but how to make more Chinese people reaping the benefits is still a challenge for the government.

    Think-tank economists, researchers and President Hu Jintao have spoken of their New Year expectations and concerns.

    Powered by domestic economic development and worldwide recovery, China's economy is expected to see stable development this year following a growth rate of 9.8 per cent in 2005.

    Ou Xinqian, vice-minister of National Development and Reform and Commission, announced that growth rate over the weekend. The rate was a little higher than in 2003 and 2004, when growth of 9.5 per cent was recorded.

    The year 2001 saw a rate of 7.5 per cent and in 2002, 8.3 per cent was recorded.

    The latest figure means China is in another economic circle of fast development.

    "The circle is likely to continue due to vibrant buying, investment and foreign trade," said Zhang Liqun, a senior researcher at the State Council Development Research Centre, the central government's think-tank.

    At a recent economic discussion, he said the rising number of car and house purchases, the vigour of regrouped State-owned enterprises and foreign investment and trade will mean continuous progress in China's economic development.

    Pushed along by the United States, China and India, world growth in 2006 is likely to continue, albeit at a slightly slower rate than in 2005, said some experts. Meanwhile, possible expansion in the Japanese economy and the euro zone could also offer some support for global momentum.

    "China, in turn, will benefit from world growth, which will create more investment opportunities," said Bi Jiyao, vice-president of the Overseas Economy Research Institute affiliated to the National Development and Reform Commission.

    Despite rapid economic progress, growing inequality between the rich and the poor, a very tough job market, higher prices and a grim workplace safety record have been troubling the government, said Li Peilin, a senior sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

    President Hu promised in his New Year address that the government would "make all of its people benefit from reform and development" while maintaining rapid and efficient economic growth.

    And the government has been working hard on social harmony, pledging the country will "put people first, foster a socialist harmonious society and give top priority to resolving urgent problems facing the overwhelming majority of the people."

    The government has already announced that it will increase the minimum living allowance for needy people, offer free compulsory education in rural regions, and expand the network of rural co-operative medical care.

    All the measures show that "fostering a harmonious society" is high on the government's economic agenda, said the experts.

    However, they said social problems, which have cropped up during robust economic development and industrialization, could not be solved overnight.

    (Source: China Daily)

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