From almost zero to 26 million, the fast expanding private sector in China has grown into a major economic powerhouse over the past twenty years. The flourishing private enterprises are not only contributing to half of China's national economic growth, but also helping ease the country's ever strained employment pressure.
While reforming its state-owned enterprises, the traditional pillar of the economy, China is placing increased hope on the non-public sectors as one of the important ways to solve huge employment pressures-14 million laid off workers and unemployed people in cities and towns.
And this does not come as a surprise. Deputy Mayor of Beijing Sun Anmin says non-public sectors occupy 90 percent of the city's commercial and service networks. And more than 70 percent of the employees in these fields are hired by private enterprises.
"The private sector in Beijing has become the main source of employment and reemployment opportunities. According to statistics from 2002, private businesses employ alomost twice as many workers as those in the public sector."
The same private economy role can be also seen in other parts of the country. In the past few years state-owned enterprises across China have seen dwindling pay rolls and have laid off millions of workers. The private sector meanwhile is not only bringing new people into the workforce, but also taking in the newly unemployed.
In a specific case, we can see how these enterprises are contributing to economic growth and jobs.
Tianzheng Group in east China's Zhejiang Province is a living example of private enterprises' contribution to the economy. Its Chairman Gao Tianle started his company with a borrowed initial capital of just 50,000 yuan and six workers 14 years ago. The originally small, privately-run company has now grown into a big conglomerate mainly producing industrial electric appliances and managing real estate, with an annual sales volume of more than 5 billion yuan, or 600 million US dollars.
"We now employ more than 6,000 people. Since last year, we started to participate in the restructuring of state-owned enterprises, and even China's Western Development Drive. Last year, we absorbed six money-losing state-owned enterprises. More than 2,000 workers laid-off from these businesses got reemployed as a result."
Also attending the annual session of the state advisory body, the entrepreneur says participation in the reform of state-owned enterprises is aimed at easing social pressures related to unemployment.
"I have to say during China's reform in recent years, the number of non-public enterprises has been growing bigger and bigger, and the private sector is also further expanding. So the room they can provide for employment is huge. So I believe in the future, the private sector will play an even more important role in offering jobs."
Now that the country is moving to protect private property by amending the constitution, experts believe it will encourage more private entrepreneurs to invest and expand production, also creating more job opportunities.
(CRI March 10, 2004)