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Confidence stems from 'crisis consciousness'
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A catchword at the ongoing sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is "confidence".  At the two sessions, NPC deputies and CPPCC members, wherever they come from, grassroots or top-level departments, all have expressed their full confidence in the national economy. In the context of the global financial crisis, the reaffirmation of confidence nationwide remains important.

Now let's look at a calculated change to the opening ceremony of this year's NPC session, where all present stood and sang the national anthem. In the past it has been played but not sung.

At this solemn occasion, the singing of the national anthem by all deputies sends an unequivocal message to the entire nation that "we should be united as one" and that "Chinese people have come to the most dangerous moment", just as the national anthem says.

These words drew heated debate upon the anthem's composition in 1949 shortly after new China was founded.

At that time, some people believed it unnecessary to warn people of such dangers since peace had finally befallen on the new socialist nation. The then premier Zhou Enlai insisted such words be retained. But from 1978 to 1982, they were removed from the national anthem after opposing voices gained the upper hand. However, since 1982 the NPC has honored them.

Late leaders Zhou and Deng Xiaoping consistently held that Chinese people should retain a kind of crisis consciousness even during peaceful and prosperous periods.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have the same attitude. Thus, the confidence today's Chinese people have expressed in the face of the global economic crisis does not mean their cocksureness, but demonstrates their optimism based upon their long-held crisis consciousness and preparation for difficulties ahead.

In his work report to the NPC, Premier Wen set this year's gross GDP growth rate at 8 percent. This target was lower than that of previous years, but it still remains particularly high given the current economic backdrop.

Considering the prolonged slump in the world's economy and the country's colossal economic base, China's 8 percent economic growth target is undoubtedly a concern. But the target is a practicable goal that can and should be realized.

As a developing country with 1.3 billion people, no room exists for China to further lower its economic growth rate.

I took a taxi in Beijing the other day and had a chance to chat with the driver. He said what concerned ordinary people most was employment, medical care, pension and anti-corruption. What he said in essence represented widespread concern about livelihoods and social stability.

In his report, Premier Wen promised unrelenting efforts to maintain steady economic growth, boost ordinary people's livelihoods and promote social stability.

The importance of a shared perception between ordinary people and top authorities should not be underestimated. At this difficult moment, the whole nation as one will help survive hardships and setbacks. The Chinese government has shown great confidence to overcome the current troubles and meet possible larger challenges.

Wen attributed the government's confidence to its scientific judgment of the current situation. He did not mean the current economic situation alone. Obviously, he also meant his government's acute judgment of the current social situation and people's aspirations.

Discerning people's deep aspirations always poses a serious challenge to governments.

The Chinese government's commitment to economic growth, boosting people's living conditions and maintaining social stability demonstrates it has done a good job in this regard.

The author is a researcher with China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies.

(China Daily March 10, 2009)

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