China recorded all-round development in science, technology, education and all other social undertakings as well as continued progress in ecological conservation and environmental protection, the top legislature was told Saturday.
Ma Kai, minister in charge of the State Development and Reform Commission gave this remark in his report to the legislature on the implementation of the 2003 Plan for National Economic and Social Development and on the 2004 Draft Plan for National Economic and Social Development.
Basic and hi-tech research was intensified and continued progress was made in the state innovation system, said the minister, who singled out the successful launching of the Shenzhou-V spacecraft and its safe return to the earth last October as another milestone in China's hi-tech development.
Fresh progress was made in compulsory education. Regular institutions of higher learning across the country enrolled 3.822 million students, 617,000 more than the previous year, the minister said.
He said efforts to develop public health facilities were intensified, and about 6 billion yuan from the sale of treasury bonds was allocated to develop an anti-SARS infrastructure, disease prevention and control networks at the provincial, prefectural and county levels, and a public health emergency response system.
"Ecological conservation and environmental protection were intensified, and economical and multipurpose utilization of natural resources was promoted. Some 2.05 million hectares of forests were developed to improve ecological conditions or serve as shelterbelts."
Banning or temporarily suspending animal grazing allowed for 8.6 million hectares of grassland to be effectively protected and rationally utilized, he said.
"Pollution control and treatment were accelerated in key river valleys and regions, including the drainage basins of the Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe rivers, Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes, and the Three Gorges Reservoir."
He went on to say that various reforms pressed ahead in an orderly manner, and China continued opening wider to the outside world. "Institutional restructuring of the State Council was completed smoothly, and steady progress was made in institutional restructuring of provincial-level governments."
Foreign trade grew rapidly, noted the minister. Imports and exports totaled US$851.2 billion, a year-on-year increase of 37.1 percent, and a total of US$53.5 billion in foreign direct investment was actually utilized.
A total of 8.59 million more urban residents found jobs, and 4.4 million laid-off workers were re-employed in 2003, and both figures exceeded the targets set for the year. The registered unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in cities and towns at the end of 2003.
The urban population had a per capita disposable income of 8,472 yuan, an increase of 9 percent in real terms, and the rural population had a per capita net income of 2,622 yuan, an increase of 4.3 percent in real terms.
Living allowances for laid-off workers and old-age pensions for retirees were basically paid on time and in full. Some 22.35 million urban residents received subsistence allowances, 1.7 million more than in 2002.
The government allocated special funds to help people in disaster-afflicted areas resume production and improve their living conditions, said the minister.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2004)