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V-1 Question: In the Fifth Plenary Session of the 10th National People's Congress held in March 2007, Premier Wen Jiabao described China's determination to maintain "sound and rapid" economic growth rather than "rapid and sound" growth. What does this imply for the future direction of economic growth?

A: In the Government Work Report made at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 10th National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao highlighted "sound and rapid" growth as the goal of China's economic development policy, a departure from previous policies that emphasized "rapid and sound" growth. By putting "sound" before "rapid," Premier Wen has conveyed to the public a significant change in China's economic development policies. China's economic development will be of better quality and be more scientific, comprehensive and sustainable.

The phrase "rapid and sound" had been used to describe the development of China's socialist market economy since the 1990s. Intuitively, "rapid" was always put before "sound." "Rapid" has been the most salient feature of China's economic development in recent years. From 1990 to 2006, the average annual economic growth rate of China was no less than 9.6 percent. During the same period, the ranking of China's GDP in the world climbed to fourth from 11th place.

Nevertheless, this "extensive" economic growth model has been very costly to China. High energy consumption coupled with pollution and ecological degradation jeopardizes sustainable social and economic development. Although some problems are the byproducts of economic development, yet our emphasis on the speed over the quality of economic growth inevitably exacerbated these problems. To solve these problems, we must change our mindset. Rather than single-mindedly pursue a high growth rate, we must balance economic growth with energy conservation and environment protection, and we must serve the real needs of the public. The fundamental guideline for future economic development is to put the quality of growth ahead of the rate of growth, that is, to ensure "sound and rapid" growth.


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