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Today in CPC History

Chinese Communist elite foresees challenges ahead
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China has ushered in its best period of time over the past century marked by robust economic growth and expanding global clout, but on everyone's lips at the ongoing national congress of the governing Communist Party of China (CPC) is "vigilance in peaceful time".


The sentiment of preparing for eventualities doesn't come out of thin air. As Chinese leader Hu Jintao pointed out Monday at the meeting where more than 2,000 Communist elite gathered to mull over the strategy for future, China has come to "a high starting point of our times" while the world gets much more complex.


Sustaining economy has been viewed as the top challenge during the open discussions over the following three days because excess expansion has taken heavy toll on the country's ecology, constantly throwing the government into emergency incidents that sparked a sudden explosion of public complaints over unsafe and deteriorating environment.


In one case, more than one million residents in Wuxi, eastern China's Jiangsu Province, found their tap water supply cut off by the sudden outbreak of the stenchy algae in China's third largest freshwater lake Taihu.


The pressure from outside China also grew as the country's huge appetite for energy and resources--5 percent of the world's coal equivalent, 30 percent of steel and 54 percent of cement annually-- triggered doubts and worries about the rise of another voracious power.


Fei Yunliang, a delegate to the congress and director of the Shandong Development and Reform Commission, said, "Breakneck growth at the costs of environment and ecology breached the laws of development, damaged productivity and would certainly incur a setback!"


The delegates did acknowledge the significance of the Scientific Outlook on Development and the proposal to nurture a conservation culture, but they also admitted its success would hinge upon the implementation in grass-root levels.


"It's easier said than done. In some places solving pollution problems brooks no delay. Only after economic growth juggernaut is completely discarded across the country can we breathe in fresher air," said delegate Wei Jiafu, president of the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company.


Taking care of the needy


When the first national congress of the CPC was convened 86 years ago, a dozen delegates had to meet in a Shanghai back alley and ended their session drifting on a boat so as to flee police search. Attributing its rise and victory to the solid support of the bottom of the society, the Party has enshrined the images of hammer and sickle onto its flag and vowed to be the vanguards of farmers and workers.


With the lapse of time, the structure of the Party's more than 73 million membership is undergoing gradual changes, with many more coming from new social strata such as private entrepreneurs. To unleash and sustain the vitality of the Party, however, delegates said the Party must keep soberminded with the yawning wealth gap and the needs of the vulnerable.


Official data showed that the country's Gini Coefficient has surpassed the warning mark of 0.4, with the per capita GDP of eastern coastal Shanghai standing around 76,000 yuan (about US$10,133), more than 13 times that of southwestern Guizhou.


Rubert Hoogewerf, a former British accountant who became well- known for his annual ranking of the China's wealthiest, exposed lately in its 2007 China Wealthiest List that 800 Chinese have made the cut-off of 800 million yuan (about US$107 million) last year, up from 500 people from a year earlier. By contrast, the per capita income of rural China remains less than 3, 600 yuan (about US$480) on average as official figures released.


Since common prosperity has been projected as the final objective of the CPC, delegates held that the Party must make sure the people could share the wealth fairly. "If someone with one lame leg walks too fast, soon or later he will fall," said one delegate.


Jiao Xuebai, director of the Labor and Social Securities Department of east China's Shandong Province, said the government must assume more responsibility to expand entitlement expenditure and make sure social benefits, health care and education available to the needy.




Communist elite normally gather once every five years in Beijing, casting ballots to decide leadership reshuffle. This year, one consensus acknowledged by most delegates is that the Party leadership has play increasingly tough against corruption.


Hundreds of thousands of corrupt officials including former Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu have been nabbed in the past five years. Last year alone, more than 90,000 members of the Party were disciplined.


But the call for enhanced crackdown has turned increasingly louder as corruption has proved often entangled with chronicle issues such as commercial bribery, coal mine accidents and arbitrary charge of fees in education and medical services.


Calling anti-corruption a national combat, they said that only after the average Chinese were mobilized to participate in the supervision of power could the Party win over the trust of the public.


Delegate Han Peixin said that supervision should target symptoms of harmful trend and establish an effective system to caution against unhealthy behavior.


"Histories and realities have repeatedly proved, any political party, if failing to prevent and curb corruption, would undoubtedly put its ruling position in peril and slip into self-destruction," said Zou Shaolu, a delegate from Yunnan.


(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2007)


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