Deputies to China's top legislature laud the 7-percent economic growth rate for 2004 as a "scientific and pragmatic" goal. The growth target, the same as that for 2003, has been set by Premier Wen Jiabao in his report to the legislature Friday and led to heated discussions among 2,900-plus deputies from all walks of life.
"It is a realistic and pragmatic goal and will help maintain the continuity of China's macro-economic policies," said Qin Chijiang, a deputy to the ongoing Second Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), and deputy secretary-general of China Finance Association.
The goal, if materialized, will bring China the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) totaling some 12 trillion yuan (US$1.45 trillion) in 2004, laying a solid foundation for implementation of the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005) and construction of a well-off society in an all-round way, according to Qin.
The low-profile growth rate will ease the pressure on resources and environment after years of rapid economic growth, and put an end to the practice of seeking solely economic growth rate, so as to improve quality of the economy and adjust economic structure, said NPC deputy Zhang Kui from north China's Shanxi Province.
In 2003, the Chinese economy grew by 9.1 percent despite the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), hitting a new record since the Asia Financial Crisis in late 1990s. However, over-heated investment in some economic sectors also resulted in a growing pressure on resources and environment.
Last year, China consumed 31 percent of the world's total coal output, and its consumption of iron ore, steel and cement accounted for 30 percent, 27 percent and 40 percent of the total global output respectively, but the country contributed merely less than four percent of the total GDP output worldwide.
"Economic growth powered by huge resource consumption cannot last long. Even if the growth target is accomplished, it will not be conducive to China's economic growth. If the reported overheated investment in a few economic sectors is not inhibited, the overall economic situation will be affected, and a greater cost had to be paid," said auditor deputy Zhang Chengqi from north China's Hebei province.
"There is no absolute standard of determining whether the economic growth rate is high or low, acknowledged NPC deputy Qin Chijiang. "The crux of matter is an efficient speed." Therefore, he called for relinquishing the use of economic growth as the solecriteria for judging officials and evaluating their merits.
(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2004)