Nov 8 2013, 6:44am CST | by IANS
Beijing, Nov 8 — As China's reform and opening up moves into its 35th year, the policy that lifted China's largely rural, impoverished economy to the world's second-largest economy has also sailed into "deep waters", leaving Chinese society and the rest of the world wondering whether and how China's reform will proceed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping Nov 2 told a group of foreign members of the 21st Century Council in Beijing that China would firmly continue pushing ahead with its reform and opening up drive, Xinhua noted in an analysis piece ahead of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee to be held Nov 9-12.
"The more developed China is, the more open it will be. It is impossible for China to shut the door that has already been opened. There will never be an end to reform and opening up," said Xi.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, told the global think tank members that a blueprint of comprehensive reform would be put forward at the forthcoming plenary session.
Since China embarked on its reform and opening up in 1978, CPC third plenums have undertaken the same important task of enacting major economic reforms while also providing a window into the governance characteristics of the country's central leadership.
At the end of 2012, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a group study on "unswervingly pushing forward reform and opening up", and Xi stressed that the party should improve reform policies by learning from the people and demand that achievements benefit more people in a fairer way.
The new central government, which was formed in March, has abolished or transferred 221 administrative approval items to local governments.
In July, China's central bank cancelled 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 China.
China's gross domestic product growth accelerated to 7.8 percent in the third quarter, up from 7.5 percent in the second quarter, bringing an end to the slowing growth rates in the first half of the year.
Analysts say that, starting this year, China's institutional reform, which aims to streamline administration and decentralise power at its core, has produced more and more "dividends", playing an important role in the rebounding and upgrading of the Chinese economy.
After 35 years of reform and opening up, the once agricultural China now stands as the world's second-largest economy and top holder of foreign reserves.
With steady and rapid economic growth in the country, millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty. Half of its population now lives in cities, and farmers are now free from agricultural tax, which was abolished in recent years, and a social insurance system covering 1.3 billion people has come into shape.
Despite these changes, China is confronted with grave and pressing problems such as the urban-rural gap and income disparity. The country also has its hands full in improving health care, education, housing and the environment for its people.
Nonetheless, analysts say currently there is still a strong consensus on reform in China.
Qin Gang, professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said as the society is diversified and different groups expect different things from reform, it is only normal to have a reform debate.
He believes that reform must address public expectations and demands, such as narrowing the income gap, social equality, and an end to corruption through institutional changes.
Wang Huaichao with the party school said there was no disagreement on whether China needed further reform, the debate was on the sequence, degree and measures of reform.
It is not unreasonable to contend that China's internal economic vitality will drive the world down a similar vital path.
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