Xinhua Insight: New leadership's first year, a good beginning of Chinese dream
                 English.news.cn | 2014-01-09 23:18:59 | Editor: Shen Qing

BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Since China's new leadership was announced, the country has been embracing great changes as it set out to realize a dream of national revival.

On Nov. 29, 2012, two weeks after seven members of the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s new leadership was announced, they paid a visit to the National Museum of China and watched an exhibition titled "The Road Toward Renewal."

In this visit, Xi Jinping, newly-elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, first brought up the concept of the "Chinese dream" which repeatedly appeared in his speeches later and has been considered the new leadership's mission and duty.

China's national revival was embodied by two major goals. One is to complete the building of "a moderately prosperous society in all respects" when the CPC celebrates its centenary in 2021. The other is to turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the People's Republic of China marks its centennial in 2049.

They are tough tasks for a country of 1.3 billion people, of whom about 100 million are still living below poverty line.

China has witnessed economic slowdown since 2012. The growth of gross domestic product (GDP) slowed from 9.3 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2012. This year it is likely to be 7.6 percent, said a State Council report in December.

"We can not deny a downward pressure on economic growth," said Xu Shaoshi, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), when briefing the country's top legislature about the report.

While the international market fails to produce strong demand, China's economy is challenged by domestic problems, such as increasing labor costs, slow economic restructuring, as well as risks in both local government debt and the financial sector.

Politically and socially, the country faces worsening pollution, social conflicts among interest groups, corruption among officials and lagging public services.

GRAND BLUEPRINT OF REFORM

The leadership presented a solution to the challenges ahead, which is to comprehensively deepen reform.

In his first visit outside Beijing as CPC leader in December 2012, Xi chose Guangdong Province as the destination, which served as a testing ground for reform and opening up policies about 30 years ago. He wanted to "conduct an on-site retrospective of the history of reform and opening up and declare the resolve to continue to push forward the policy."

During the visit, he pledged "no stop in reform and no stop in opening up."

Roughly a year after, the CPC rolled out a grand reform blueprint at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in mid November, 2013.

The plan included more than 300 reform measures in economic, political, social, cultural and environmental sectors.

It set main principles for future reforms. It elevated the status of the market from the "basic role" to the "decisive role" in allocating resources and vowed to build an "open and unified market" with orderly competition.

It set the focus of political reform on the leadership of the CPC, people being masters of the country and the rule of law.

There were also immediate reform measures. At the session, the CPC decided to set up a central leading team for overall reform. About a month later at a meeting of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, Xi was appointed to head the team.

Analysts believed such an institution that exercises core leadership is essential for reform on such a large scale as it will involve not only government but also the Party, legislature and judiciary. It will also help to break entrenched vested interests and boost confidence.

In the plan, the CPC also decided to abolish the system of reeducation through labor and ease the only-child policy by allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child. Later in December, the two policy changes formally kicked off with the nod from the top legislature.

Besides policies, actual moves were made. To streamline government functions, the new central government, which was formed in March 2013, has abolished or transferred 221 administrative approval items to local governments.

In July, the central bank canceled the floor on lending rates, and in September, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone opened, providing a testing ground for the deregulation of interest rates in the country.

To tackle worsening air quality, a 1.75 trillion-yuan (284.2 billion U.S. dollars) plan was sanctioned by the central government last September. It is aimed to cut the density of inhalable particulate matter by at least 10 percent in major cities nationwide by 2017.

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