BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Zhang Chunjiao and her husband Shi Yiyou have spent the past decade struggling for a basic quality of life since being laid off from a farm in central China's Hubei Province. They have scraped by with part-time jobs in cities, living in shabby rented homes.
However, with China investing heavily in low-income houses, the couple recently moved into one such government-subsidized low-rent apartment at a cost of 80 yuan (12.76 U.S.dollars) per month (the rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Beijing is at least 2,000 yuan).
"Over the past 10 years, we've been moving all the time and I had never felt home. Now, we don't have to worry about being driven out by landlords any longer," Zhang said.
Their story illustrates how housing is among China's hottest political issues, one of many concerns in the spotlight ahead of the upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Zhang and Shi's experience can also be used as a case study of how the CPC's political theories are being enacted.
Housing affects ordinary Chinese people's lives as well as society more broadly. High property prices have created resentment and touched off various conflicts involving demolition and land appropriation, which all threatened social stability.
In line with the instructions of President Hu Jintao "to address those problems that concern the people most and those concerning their immediate interests," the Chinese government has on the one hand introduced measures to cool down the over-heated property sector, and on the other hand constructed government-subsidized housing on a grand scale.
Improving people's lives while fostering China's now-famously wondrous economy is the practical interpretation of the country's guiding strategy over the past decade: "Scientific Outlook on Development."
This theory calls for comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development while adhering to a people-first approach so as to achieve economic and social progress as well as the all-around comfort of people.
It is regarded by some China observers as underlining the intrinsic values of socialism, and a tenet crucial to China's future destiny.
Its past unitary and extensive development mode brought fast economic growth, but ignored some social issues and often came at the expense of the environment.
The upcoming CPC congress will aim to continue balancing out these competing forces. It will enact guidelines designed to keep pace with time and heed people's will. And experts believe "Scientific Outlook on Development" will remain the guiding principle for the new generation of central leadership, as implementing the theory is a long-term task.
"Scientific Outlook on Development" was first raised by President Hu in his inspection tour of Jiangxi Province in 2003, and was written into the CPC Constitution in October 2007, obtaining the same level of significance as Deng Xiaoping theory and "Three Represents," within the concept of "socialism with Chinese characteristics."
One shining example of how the scientific approach is correcting past imbalances in society is the city of Huangshi, in Hubei Province. Xinhua correspondents saw in this central China's mid-level city that despite economic downward pressure, it is not willing to lower its environmental protection standards at all.
Solar power generation facilities are seen everywhere in the city's Huangjinshan industrial cluster. Huangshi has also attracted a garbage recycling power generation plant from Hong Kong.
The central government's proposal a decade ago to pursue comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development could help change China's growth from quantity-oriented to quality-oriented, according to Wang Jianming, Huangshi's party secretary.
"Adhering to the people-first approach requires us to address citizens' needs, including their demands for apartments, employment, education, healthcare and food safety," Wang explained.
In the meantime, China's eastern costal cities are taking big steps in adjusting industrial structure, using high technology and increasing environmental protection standards.
However, there is still a long way to go to genuinely put people first.
The local government in Qidong City, in east China's Jiangsu Province, this year canceled an industrial waste pipeline project hours after thousands of angry residents protested against the plan to build it.
The angry scenes came on the heels of similar demonstrations against industrial projects in the southwestern city of Shifang in July.
Last year, residents in Guangdong Province's Wukan staged three waves of large-scale rallies in four months to protest village officials' alleged illegal land grabs, corruption and violations of financing and election rules.
Many parts of China are correcting mistakes to ensure every ordinary citizens share the fruits of economic development. Wukan is one of them.
One year after disgruntled residents staged a mass rally, progress has been evident in the village's self-governance.
Order was restored after a senior provincial official held talks with villagers in December, and elections were held earlier this year, during which Lin Zulian was appointed as the new CPC chief of the village of 13,000 residents.
Addressing a gathering of about 200 villagers, Lin said more than 3,800 mu of land, which was illegally transferred or allocated under the tenure of his predecessor had been returned to Wukan.
In the meantime, six livelihood projects with a combined investment of 60 million yuan (9.5 million U.S. dollars) are "progressing smoothly," according to Lin. The projects are supported by provincial and municipal governments.
On July 23 this year, in a speech to provincial-level officials President Hu Jintao said that implementing "Scientific Outlook on Development" will remain an arduous task for a long time to come."
Xie Chuntao, deputy director of the department of Party history study of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said though "Scientific Outlook on Development" has become well-known across the entire Party and the nation, its supporting system is still fledgling, and it has not been integrated into the evaluation criteria of officials. Xie therefore called for unyielding efforts to carry the theory out.
Ma Zhejun, deputy dean of the Party school of Hubei provincial committee of the CPC, said, "China, after the 18th CPC National Congress, will still pursue Scientific Outlook on Development, and the CPC will make bigger efforts to drive home its practices in local areas.
"The CPC will lead China to deepen its reform and opening-up and address challenges in economic restructuring. Scientific Outlook on Development is the only theory that can address China's various problems confronted in the midst of restructuring and development."