Globalization is exerting great pressure on Chinese policy-makers to make fundamental changes to the administrative system, speed up enterprise reform and increase the income of farmers, said participants at the National Dialogue in China forum in Beijing yesterday.
The one-day event was organized by the International Labor Organization's World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization and the China Development Research Foundation.
Zhang Zuoji, minister of labor and social security, told the event: "In today's world, a spirit of democracy and tolerance must be promoted when facing the complicated issue of the social dimension of globalization."
The minister said developing countries should more actively adapt to globalization.
The International Labor Organization commission was established in February with the aim of establishing a dialogue among key players to ascertain their perspectives on globalization and its impact, and to identify proposals and ideas for policies and programmes to address social and economic issues of concern.
Similar "national dialogues" are being organized in some 20 countries from all the world's major regions. The format and orientation of the dialogue vary depending on the national context. The commission is expected to release its final report by the end of 2003.
More than 40 delegates from Chinese Government bodies, trade unions, business circles, academia and some non-governmental organizations, plus members from the commission, participated in the National Dialogue in China.
Zhang said he hoped the commission's report would reflect the comprehensive and objective views and positions of countries with different cultural traditions and levels of development, especially developing countries' calls for the establishment of a just and fair international political and economic order and the right to play an equal part in development.
Finnish President Tarja Halonen, who is also chair of the commission, told the event that it is important to focus on people when analysing the effects of globalization and how to manage it.
"People are, at the same time, the objects and the subjects of globalization," she said.
However, participants at the forum also agreed that developing countries on the whole are in a fairly unfavorable position. They may have to obtain certain foreign funds, access to markets, advanced technology and management expertise, thus accelerating their economic development.
These factors only tell part of the story. For example, jobs go where they are most efficiently done, causing job losses in certain areas, said Zhang Xiaoshan, director of the Rural Development Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
It is a hard task for China to transfer its rural surplus labor force of 40 million by 2005 and the social security and medical insurance systems in rural areas also face enormous pressure and stern challenges, said the director.
But everyone will benefit from globalization in the long run, said Zhou Qiren, a professor from the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University.
"Globalization's spread around the world is unstoppable and people have to find ways to learn how to adjust to respond amid tougher globalization rather than simply seeking protection," said Zhou.
(China Daily November 27, 2002)