What They Are Saying

The National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top law-making body, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the nation's top advisory body, are presently holding their annual sessions in Beijing. The following are excerpts from speeches by NPC deputies and/or CPPCC members on current issues.

Strengthen agriculture

Wang Ping, an NPC deputy and secretary of the Communist Party of China Committee in Zhoukou, Henan Province:

Grain products are currently in surplus, which has caused a sharp drop in prices and a slowdown of increases in farmers' income.

Premier Zhu Rongji, in his report on the Outline of the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05), urged the government to make it a priority to strengthen agriculture and increase farmers' income. The report will inspire our work in agriculture.

Ensuring stable agricultural development will be a major task.

A market mechanism needs to be nourished in agriculture and local governments should respect farmers' rights to make their own decisions.

Rural taxation reform will be a determiner in reducing farmers' financial burdens. Random fees imposed on farmers should be strictly curbed.

Local governments also need to improve their work to offer farmers better services for promoting rural economic development.

More channels required

Yuan Xingpei, a CPPCC member and professor at Peking University:

China should give a free rein to private investors to venture into higher education.

There is an acute shortage of well-educated young people.

At present only 47 percent of senior middle school students have access to higher education, that means people with a further education account for only 6 percent of young people in the same age group. Sole reliance on the government cannot meet the actual demand and it is, therefore, necessary to create more space for non-governmental forces to provide further education.

Greater efforts should be made to develop human resources.

There are about 230 million students in China, about a fifth of all students in the world, yet China's spending on education represents only 1.5 percent of the world's total.

The formulation of laws and regulations on private investment in education and the higher education system should be reformed to meet the requirements of diverse sources of investment.

To date, China has officially recognized diplomas issued by 47 of the 1,240 non-governmental institutions of higher learning.

Water from south

Zhang Chunyuan, a CPPCC member and vice-chairman of the Subcommittee of Population, Resources and the Environment of the Ninth CPPCC:

The government has worked out a plan to divert water from the south to the north by channeling waters from the lower, middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

The plan was made on the basis of extensive research carried out over the past 50 years.

On completion, 38 billion to 48 billion cubic meters of water will be channeled into North China every year through the three channels.

The water diversion project is expected to benefit local people.

New consumption trend

Zhang Shirui, an NPC deputy and general manager of the Dongfeng-Citroen Automobile Co Ltd:

The car hire business has spread to China, where hiring a car for personal use is expected to become the new driving force of consumption given the current purchasing power of the Chinese people.

Although 240,000 Chinese people bought their private cars in 2000 alone, having a private car is still a dream to most families.

Car hire can help car lovers to enjoy driving, and a policy to encourage the development of family cars in the draft 10th Five-Year Plan, now being deliberated at the current NPC session, will help rev up the presently sluggish car rental market.

Car hire companies can form a nationwide network to do more business from chain operations.

Coal industry ignored

Wang Senhao, a CPPCC member:

The government should give more attention to the country's ignored coal industry in its 10th five-year plan.

The oversupply of coal has led to less government attention to the industry.

As a result, China's coal industry has fallen into a depression - production input and safety have been seriously insufficient and the incomes of coal miners have fallen.

The situation has produced a factor of instability to society, and the government must change its policy and start looking for a solution to the oversupply of coal and pollution caused by coal burning.

The oversupply of coal is temporary. China's per capita energy consumption is very low, equivalent to about 1 ton of standard coal only, or half of the world average.

With the development of the economy and the improvement of people's living standards, demand for energy and coal will inevitably rise.

Instead of replacing coal with oil or gas, or blaming pollution on the poor quality of the coal, more advanced methods need to be introduced to control the effects of burning.

To turn around the coal industry, the government must improve its administration of the sector.

Large group companies should be set up.

In the long term, the energy industry will have coal as its raw material and electricity will be the end product. Coal-electricity or coal-steel conglomerates should be formed.

Large coal-chemical plants or coal-liquefying plants should also be established to reduce independence on imported oil.

(China Daily 03/10/2001)

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