Third Session
10th National People's Congress and
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

Experts Discuss a Harmonious Society

It's the buzzword among delegates at China's important political gathering, the Third Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Thousands of deputies and members are expected to engage in wide discussions about social harmony.

The nation's sociologists are also engaged in highlighting the significance of striving for a harmonious society.

At the Fourth Plenum of the 16th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee last September, the CPC officially put forward the historical goal of building "a socialist harmonious society."

On February 19 this year, President Hu Jintao, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, instructed the country's leading officials and Party cadres to put "building a harmonious society" at the top of their work agenda.

Hu was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying it was important to balance the interests of different social groups, avoid conflicts and make sure people live a safe and happy life in a politically-stable country.

"A harmonious society therefore will feature democracy, the rule of law, equity, justice, sincerity, amity and vitality," he told the opening ceremony of a seven-day training course, conducted by the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

Li Zhongze, a sociology professor with Beijing Second International Studies University, said: "It suggests the Chinese Government is consciously implementing the basic concepts of people first and government for the people, while placing an unprecedented emphasis on resolving urgent problems facing the overwhelming majority of the people.

"It manifests the importance of sustainable development for the Chinese economy and society," he said.

Lu Xueyi, director of the China Sociology Association, said the urgency to build a harmonious society results from the country's drastic change in industrial structures, which will entail new opportunities as well "as social risks."

In 2003, China's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) reached US$1,090, exceeding for the first time the US$1,000-mark - the so-called growth threshold which analysts say means industrialization will be speeded up.

But after two decades of robust economic growth, a range of social problems have also emerged, such as the loss of farmland, a widening gap between rich and poor, soaring unemployment and rampant corruption.

All are leading factors that could breed instability and social tension

The number of complaints from the public to the country's courts alone has increased 500 times over the past 20 years, according to a recent report by the Beijing-based China News Service.

Meanwhile, the country with a 1.3-billion population also faces increasingly serious conflicts among its people, the economy, society, resources and the environment.

"China is at a crossroads," said Lu: "It can either smoothly evolve into a medium-level developed country or it can spiral into stagnation and chaos."

During the process, there will be deep and even volatile changes in the country's economic structure, people's lifestyles, production methods and social structure.

"If all problems are well addressed, the country will be able to develop on a stable and sound track," Lu added.

(China Daily March 4, 2005)


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