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Livelihoods central to gov't reform efforts
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The process of reform will accelerate and the basic issues restricting China's long-term development will be targeted, according to the report delivered by General Secretary Hu Jintao at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

First, innovation will be the key to promoting development.

There are three types of innovation: ideological innovation, scientific innovation and technical innovation.

Since the 16th National Congress of the CPC, the Central Committee of the Party, with General Secretary Hu Jintao at its core, has put forward a series of important strategic thoughts such as the Scientific Outlook on Development and the building of a harmonious socialist society. These concepts emerged at a time when the country faces unprecedented opportunities and challenges and are examples of ideological innovation. The implementation of these concepts after the 17th National Congress will lay a solid foundation for innovation in other fields.

The historical process of China's development shows that innovation has always been a key factor. In the long run, the competition between countries is basically a competition of the ability to innovate. History has proved that countries with a fine environment for innovation enjoy a high level development while those who inhibit innovation generally have a low level of development. The lack of innovation creates insufficient drive for social development.

In the initial stages of development, developing countries usually face the following problems: backward technologies and inefficient production. Developing countries can import advanced machines, improve productivity and reform backward systems. Their economies will grow at a relatively brisk pace for a time. But if they only import without innovating, the speed of their development will prove unsustainable.

China's social and economic development have reached a reasonably high level, and innovation has become a pressing and vital issue. Guided by the Scientific Outlook on Development, our systems and policies will be reoriented toward innovation. And the process will be accelerated constantly.

Second, coordination will become a central characteristic of policy measures.

China is now in the middle of a profound social and economic transformation. Such a transformation creates vitality as well as social contradictions. It has stimulated adjustments and the reorganization of society. The creation of different kinds of economic ownership and market competition has expanded the income gap. The urban-rural economic structure and large-scale population flows have led to a fundamental change in the way Chinese farmers live. The transformation of the country's economic growth model and industrial restructuring have increased the mobility of employment.

Together with some questions left from eras past, social relations are more complicated today than ever. Therefore, policies that used to promote economic growth but lacked fairness should be adjusted, and any lingering inharmonious phenomena should be reversed.

The spirit of building a harmonious society is to coordinate interests, resolve social contradictions and realize harmony and stability. The new policies are to promote coordinated social-economic development by focusing on people's livelihoods and areas such as poverty, unemployment, education and public health and the social security system. The goal is to guarantee that all the people can enjoy the fruits of reform and development.

The basic requirement of the Scientific Outlook on Development is to develop the country in a comprehensive, balanced and sustainable way, and the fundamental approach is to carry out unified planning with due consideration for everyone. Coordination will be a key characteristic of future macroeconomic policies.

Last but not least, the improvement of people's livelihoods will become a key measure to assess the performance of economic development.

The Scientific Outlook on Development puts people first. The report by Hu included the phrase "accelerate the development of social programs and improve every aspect of the people's wellbeing" in the new requirements for attaining a moderately prosperous society.

Hu said social development is closely related to people's wellbeing, and we must do our best to ensure that all people enjoy their rights to education, employment, medical and old-age care and housing.

History has shown that people's livelihoods are measured by social development and political stability. Improving people's lives will pave the way for social harmony. The next few years will reflect how far China has come in this respect.

The variables used to assess economic development will change. In regions where the environment has suffered, economic growth will no longer be the sole objective of development.

The author is an economist with the State Information Center

(China Daily December 18, 2007)

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