Singaporean James Cai Mao may not know the meaning of the "scientific outlook on development," a highly publicized slogan in China, but the political catch phrase may bring him business opportunities.
His opportunity came as China launched an 18-month campaign last September to "further study and apply" the creed of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Cai, 49, from Guizhou Province and now a Singaporean citizen, wrote to the provincial Party chief Shi Zongyuan on October 23, the very day Shi publicized an e-mail address to solicit public suggestions to develop the poor province based on the "scientific outlook."
Shi's move was part of the campaign, which required officials to open their minds, listen more to the people and improve efficiency.
In his e-mail, Cai suggested the province build health farms, where urban people could go for a healthful regimen of regular exercise and special diets, as a way to promote agriculture and create jobs for rural residents.
"I've been living and working abroad for more than 20 years. I hope to introduce some advanced ideas and technology to my hometown to help its development," Cai told Xinhua in an e-mail. He is a researcher with a computer science institution in Singapore.
Suggestions like Cai's, which can inspire officials with specific development ideas rather than empty theory, might be what officials would like to hear at the ongoing session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the upcoming session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
With international financial crisis spreading, this year's two sessions are expected to attract intense public and media attention, focusing on how the country can pull through the crisis using the scientific outlook.
The political advisers in Beijing for their annual meeting showed in their proposals great concern to the country's 4-trillion-yuan (US$585.5 billion) stimulus package. They called for efforts to prevent "overlapping construction," according to Zhao Qizheng, spokesman of the CPPCC National Committee's
The No. 1 priority proposal of the CPPCC National Committee concerns creating jobs during the economic slowdown. The proposal comes from the Central Committee of the non-Communist China Zhi Gong Party.
Guo Ziyi, an NPC deputy from Guizhou, said the scientific outlook on development is not an empty slogan. "I expect less newspeak and more scientific measures (from the sessions)," he said.
Other thorny issues such as social security, medical care, and corruption will also be on the agenda of lawmakers and political advisers. In an online poll by Xinhuanet.com days before the opening of the two sessions, corruption still tops Netizens' concerns. They complained that their interests were ignored or violated by local officials.
Some people put articles on their blogs, expressing their worries that the money from the stimulus package might be embezzled. Bureaucracy, a chronical problem, is another factor that could hinder China's economic recovery.
Right to know
When chatting with Netizens over the weekend, Premier Wen Jiabao pointed out that only by creating a clean government can China ensure steady economic growth. "I always think that people have the right to know what the government is thinking and doing, and voice their criticism of government policy," he said.
To win people's support, the Chinese government has taken measures to ensure people's participation in major policy making.
For example, public hearings are frequently held in the drafting of major laws and policies.
"If the governments are more transparent, efficient, open-minded and service-oriented, I believe the economic stimulus plans will be better implemented," said NPC deputy Guo, a member of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, one of China's eight non-Communist parties.
Since last October, the government has announced several aggressive measures to bolster domestic demand and increase investment, including the stimulus package, a plan to expand rural consumption of home appliances and support plans for key industries.
Experts believe that the scientific outlook, which is emphasized by Chinese leaders, will be explained further at the two sessions.
The doctrine was inscribed in the CPC Constitution at the Party's 17th National Congress in 2007.
The concept emphasizes caring about the well-being of people, promoting comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development and balancing different aspects of social life, said Professor Wang Yukai of the National School of Administration.
Wang said it was coincidental that the campaign of studying and applying the concept was closely connected with the international financial crisis.
"The campaign actually started before the financial crisis," he said. "But the approach of the scientific outlook can provide solutions to curb the economic downturn."
China has made significant achievements since it adopted the reform and opening up policy 30 years ago.
But the country also paid a high social and environmental cost for its rapid economic growth.
(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2009)