SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT OF DEVELOPMENT
The Scientific Concept of Development means putting people first and aiming at comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development.
To put people first, we should take people's interests as the starting point and foothold of all of our works, make continuous efforts to meet various needs of the people and promote an overall development of the people. To enact comprehensive development, we should quicken the pace of building socialist political and spiritual civilizations while we constantly improve the socialist market economy and maintain coordinated, healthy economic development, thus constructing a structure that features mutual improvement and common development of material, political and spiritual civilizations. To enact coordinated development, we should promote a balanced growth between urban and rural areas, different regions, economic and social undertakings, man and nature as well as domestic progress and opening-up to the world. To conduct sustainable development, we should foster a harmony between man and nature, tackle problems inherent in economic construction, population growth, resource utilization and environmental protection, and push society onto a path toward civilized development featuring growing production, an affluent lifestyle and a sound ecosystem.
Experts' understanding of the Scientific Concept of Development
Why did the CPC Central Committee put forward the Scientific Concept of Development?
The Scientific Concept of Development was put forward at the Third Plenary Session of the 16th CPC National Congress in 2003. It shows the new central leadership's deeper, innovative understanding regarding the connotation, essence and nature of development.
Wang Huaichao, Deputy Director of the Department of Social Sciences of the Party School of CPC Central Committee, pointed out that after the reform and opening-up policy was introduced in 1978, the CPC Central Committee made a strategic decision to shift its focus onto socialist modernization construction. The Party's basic line, including keeping economic development as the central task and building up socialism with Chinese characteristics, gradually took shape. In the early 1990s, the CPC Central Committee formulated the principle of fast, coordinated and sustainable development. In particular, it put forth the sustainable development strategy. While propelling economic development, the CPC Central Committee took into consideration the population, resources and environment. It also began to foster harmony between man and nature. In the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the people-first concept was put forward. However, in day-to-day works, some local governments still kept their eyes glued on economic growth, especially GDP increases. Thus, they devoted less attention to the development of society and people.
Zheng Xinli, Deputy Director of the Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, had his own understanding of the background of the formulation of the Scientific Concept of Development. He pointed out that first of all, the concept was put forward when a series of prominent issues cropped up in China's economic and social development. Since 1978, China has made much headway in its economic development. However, it was also undeniable that the country was suffering from a series of problems, such as uneven development, uncoordinated development and a weak capacity to maintain sustainable development. Specifically speaking, the divide between urban and rural areas kept enlarging, the pressure on employment was intensifying, the gap between different regions was widening, the reserve of resources was diminishing and the eco-environment was deteriorating. During this period, social development obviously lagged behind economic advancement. After the 9th Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), great efforts were made to improve the economic growth mode, which once led to a significant decrease in consumption. However, in the past two years, the former extensive economic growth mode was discovered again in some regions. While some of the problems were unavoidable, given the current stage of development, some resulted from a faulty understanding of development. In order to solve various problems in day-to-day works, the CPC Central Committee put forward the concept of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development. The concept was formulated in accordance with the real conditions of China in order to meet the pressing needs of overall development of the country.
Second, the scientific concept of development is a necessary requirement to accomplish the objective of building a prosperous society in an all round way. To achieve this objective, great efforts must be made to improve the living standards in rural China, especially in the central and western parts of China. Efforts must also be made in urban areas where some 30 million people still lead comparatively poor lives. What should the government do to help the poor live a better life and spread the benefits of the reform and opening-up policy to all? This becomes an important task for the government to fulfill when it tries to build a prosperous society in an all-round way. To build a well-off society in an all-round way does not mean simple GDP growth. It also signifies societal development, environmental improvement, an enhancement of people's cultural life and ethical standards, and the comprehensive development of material, political and spiritual civilizations. To achieve the objective, we should change the former faulty understanding of development.
In the past five decades since the People's Republic of China was founded, we have accumulated a series of successful experiences, such as building up a nationwide public medical system and strengthening compulsory education in rural areas. However, some of these good practices were not maintained during the economic transformation. Compared with the fast economic development in China, social development obviously lagged behind, unable to meet the requirements of economic development and the needs of the people for material and cultural life. In addition, the unexpected SARS outbreak in 2003 reminded us that besides economic growth, there were many other issues that needed to be addressed promptly.
Finally, after years of economic progress, China is now capable of solving previously unsolvable problems. To solve the problems inherent in social development, such as technological innovation, educational development, pollution control and ecological improvement, a large quantity of financial investment is required. In the past, when food and clothing were not adequate, the government made all of its efforts to increase supply and fulfill people’s fundamental needs for material life. Under such conditions, it was difficult for the government to spare efforts for other issues. However, thanks to the fast development in the past 20 years, the Chinese people have become prosperous by and large. The country has seen a remarkable rise in its economic strength. The per-capita GDP totaled US$1,000.
To keep economic development as the central task is naturally included in the Scientific Concept of Development.
Experts pointed out that to ensure the successful implementation of the Scientific Concept of Development, on one hand, we should correct a series of erroneous understandings, such as prioritizing economic growth over social development, prioritizing material output over the realization of men's values, and prioritizing immediate interests over long-term interests. On the other hand, we should clearly note that to conduct comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development, we should always consider economic development as our primary task. The law of social development tells us that although economic growth is not the whole of development, it is the essence of development.
Wang Mengkui, Director of the Development Research Center of the State Council, pointed out that the current prosperous situation in China is mainly due to fast economic growth over the past two decades. The settlement of all those social problems is based on continuous economic achievement. In the past 20 years, China has made much headway in economic development and institutional reform. Meanwhile, however, a great number of problems have cropped up. All the experiences we have acquired in domestic development and the development of other countries tell us that economic growth, especially GDP growth, should not be taken as the only index of social-economic development. The final aim of our development should be achieving a comprehensive social advancement on the basis of economic growth, thus to enhance the living standards of all people.
Chen Xiwen is the deputy director of the Leading Work Group of Financial and Economic Works of the CPC Central Committee. He is also a specialist on agricultural policies. Chen said China used to concentrate on GDP growth alone. This was not real development. To Chen, if a local government achieved fast GDP increase by depriving farmers of their lands, works and even social securities, how could we call it development?
All positive and negative experiences warn us that on one hand, we should not replace social development by pure economic pursuit, and on the other hand, we should not deny the key role of economic development in social advancement. On the whole, we should stick to the central task of economic development and strive for a balanced development of all resources to achieve comprehensive development within all of society. China has a huge population but only a small amount of per-capita resources. Compared with the developed countries, it remains backward in many fields. Take an example: suppose the annual economic growth rate of the US stands at 3 percent and that of China 8 percent, it will take China 68 years to enjoy a per-capita GDP equal to that of the US. Suppose the annual economic growth rate of the US stands at 4 percent and that of China 7 percent, it will take China 118 years to catch up with the US. China is at the primary stage of socialism. The increase of material wealth should always be taken as the essence and fundamental issue of development. Without fast accumulation of material wealth, it is difficult for us to accomplish the objective of fostering balanced development.
What is the nature and connotation of the balanced development?
Wang Mengkui pointed out that balanced development between urban and rural areas, between different regions, between economic and social undertakings, between man and nature as well as between domestic development and opening-up to the world are the fundamental requirements of the Scientific Concept of Development. In the course of building up a prosperous society in an all-round way and accomplishing the modernization drive, it is of vital importance to choose a proper path and pattern to achieve a better form of development.
To coordinate development between urban and rural areas, we should change the dual economic structure in the countryside and the cities. In the past, agricultural policies focused on promoting agricultural production. Currently, more efforts are being made to solve three issues inherent in agriculture, countryside and farmer by industrializing agricultural productions, transferring surplus rural labor to non-agricultural industries and to cities and towns, and incorporating rural economy into the unified national economic market. In future economic reform, efforts should be made to build up an economic system that is a boon to the transformation of the dual economic structure in rural and urban areas. More state policies should be adopted in favor of agriculture, farmers and the countryside.
To coordinate development among different regions, we should promote the common development of all regions. Regional gaps are not only found between eastern China and western China, but also between provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government. This problem should be gradually addressed in the course of industrialization, urbanization and market development.
To coordinate development between economic and social undertakings, we should achieve a comprehensive progress of the whole society and enhance the living standard of all people by propelling economic development. With the settlement of food and clothing problems and the deepening of reform, an increasing number of social problems have emerged. Most of the problems are due to government’s failure to carry out its duties in the course of economic restructuring. Measures shall be taken to change the role of government. In particular fields like social security, science and technology, culture and education, public health and medicare, government must fulfill its responsibilities instead of simply putting forward slogans.
To coordinate development between man and nature, we should maintain a proper growth in population, a sustainable utilization of resources, and advocate ecological principals. Compared with other countries, China has a small amount of per-capita resources. Therefore, the government should take into consideration the condition of resources and the endurance of environment when it makes decisions on industrialization, urbanization, development patterns, development strategies, technological policies and even social life styles.
To coordinate development between domestic development and opening-up to the world, we should make the Chinese economy boom by a better use of various resources and markets at home and abroad. In the past, China suffered from a closed economy, small amounts of foreign trade volumes and a scarcity of foreign currencies. The economic structure and policies established at that time should be reformed. A great number of the old understandings on economic issues should be changed. At present, it will be a good step forward to properly increase the imports of resource-intensive products and introduce more advanced technologies. Concerning foreign trade relations, we should make every effort to bring about a "win-win" situation in foreign trades, but we should also note that trade frictions are inevitable when an emerging country tries to penetrate the global market.
The essence of the scientific development concept is to put people first
The essence of the Scientific Concept of Development is to put people first. This is stipulated in the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Some Issues Concerning the Improvement of the Socialist Market Economy that was adopted at the Third Plenary Session of the 16th CPC National Congress.
Zheng Xinli made a further explanation on why the CPC Central Committee takes people as the starting point and the foothold of the Scientific Concept of Development.
First of all, China is a socialist country under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Therefore, national economic development should aim at meeting the growing needs of people for material and cultural life. With a huge population, China sees an uneven regional development and people's needs vary widely. Thus, we should work hard to fulfill the diversified needs of 1.3 billion people living at different social levels. Meanwhile, we should note that it is an interactive process to realize people's wishes, meet people's needs and safeguard people’s interests. We should be responsive to any changes taking place in people's wishes and interests, thus to precisely reflect people's interests in our policies and to serve the public interest in a better and more energetic way.
Second, our growth is geared to achieve a comprehensive development of the people. The subsistence and progress of the people should be taken as the foremost objectives of our works. All we do is to the people and for the people.
Only when we accomplish all these tasks can we ensure an effective implementation of the scientific concept of development, thus contributing to the comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development of China, both in economic and social fields.
Six main characteristics of a harmonious society:
- Democracy and the rule of law,
- fairness and justice,
- integrity and fraternity,
- stability and order,
- and harmony between man and nature.
The main objectives and tasks for building a harmonious socialist society by 2020:
-- The socialist democratic and legal system must be further improved; the fundamental principle of administering the country according to the law must be generally implemented; people's rights and interests shall enjoy concrete respect and be guaranteed. To achieve this, we shall develop a socialist democracy and fully integrate the leadership of the Party with the people's position as masters of the country and thus administer the country according to the rule of law; we shall enable the broad masses of people to participate in economic, political, cultural and social management; we shall constantly improve the legal system, ensure judicial justice and safeguard judicial authority so as to concretely respect and protect people's economic, political, cultural and social rights and interests and protect human rights and property rights.
-- The widening gap between urban and rural development and between different regions shall be gradually reversed; a reasonable and orderly income distribution pattern will take shape in general; household wealth shall increase universally, thus enabling people to lead more affluent lives; employment rates will be relatively high and a social security system covering both urban and rural residents shall be established in general. To achieve this, we shall reverse the unbalanced development between urban and rural areas and between different regions; we should reduce the proportion of high and low income groups and increase the proportion of the middle income group so as to enable the "diversified" income distribution pattern to take shape. The distribution order that ensures equal opportunities and an equitable distribution process will surely make the distribution result more reasonable; and the per capita income level of all members of society will be improved. We shall achieve full employment through economic restructuring and innovation of systems and basically set up the social security system covering both urban and rural residents.
-- Basic public service systems shall be further improved and the government will attain relatively significant improvements in administrative and service levels. To achieve this, the government's public finance system shall be further improved and the division of the administrative power and financial power of governments at all levels shall become more reasonable. Urban and rural residents shall gradually enjoy equal basic public services. And the quality of the public products such as education, medicare, employment and social security shall realize marked progress. The change of government functions in line with the requirements of the socialist market economy shall make great progress. The government’s economic regulation, market supervision, social management and public services should be more responsive to the growing material and cultural needs of the people.
-- The ideological and moral qualities, scientific and cultural qualities and health status of the whole nation will be improved markedly and further progress will be made in fostering a sound moral atmosphere and harmonious interpersonal relationships. To achieve this, we shall filter socialist core values into the minds of people and help them reach a wide agreement on moral standards such as patriotism, devotion, honesty and friendliness. We shall popularize 9-year compulsory education so as to increase the physical and mental health of the people and create a social atmosphere of one for all and all for one.
-- Creativity of society as a whole will be enhanced markedly and an innovation-based nation will be established in general; public administration system will be further improved and social order made sound. To achieve this, we shall ensure that the whole society becomes more united and harmonious; we shall deliver more perfect mechanisms for fair competition, further improve the modern property rights so as to give full play to the creativity of the whole society. On the basis of integrating social management resources we shall set up a complementary network to ensure a clear division of government and market and a reasonable division of responsibilities between governments at higher and grassroots levels so as to better meet the needs of social restructuring and constantly enhance the people's sense of convenience and security.
-- Resources will be used more efficiently and the ecological environment will be improved visibly. To achieve this objective, we shall speed up our pace to change patterns of economic growth and reduce our overall consumption level of energy and other resources; we shall focus on addressing the environmental and ecological problems which endanger people’s health and affect sustainable development, thus enabling people to have clean water, fresh air and safe, healthy food; we shall make new progress in building a resource conserving and environmentally friendly society.
The principles observed in building a harmonious socialist society:
-- Putting people first. We must always put the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people as both the starting point and objective of the work of the Party and state to satisfy their ever-increasing material and cultural demands. We shall insist that development should be for the people and by the people and its benefit should be shared among the people.
-- Development in a scientific way. We shall work to strike a proper balance between urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, development of man and nature, and domestic development and opening wider to the outside world. We shall change our growth mode, promote energy-efficient development to realize comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable economic and social development.
-- In-depth reform and opening up. We shall continue in the direction of reform to develop the socialist market economy. In order to meet the requirements for economic and social development, we shall promote economic, political, cultural and social restructuring and innovation. We shall open wider to the outside world, make the reform decisions more scientific and the reform measures more coordinate so as to establish more dynamic, more efficient and more open systems and mechanisms.
-- Democracy and the rule of law. We should build socialist democracy and implement the fundamental principle of administering the country according to law. We shall build a socialist country under the rule of law, enhance the legal awareness of the whole society and promote the legalization and standardization of national economy, politics, culture and social life so as to gradually constitute the social justice guaranteeing system and to promote social justice.
-- Properly handling the relationships between reform, development and stability. We should take into full consideration the momentum of reform, the speed of development and the responses of the general public. We shall maintain the stability and unification of the society so as to ensure that people should live and work in peace and contentment.
-- The participation of the whole society under the leadership of the Party. We shall follow a scientific and democratic path of administration in accordance with laws, and unite all forces available so as to create a harmonious society where everyone shares the responsibilities as well as achievements.
(China.org.cn, 17thcongress.org.cn October 8, 2007)