As a green hand in managing a market-oriented economy, Chinese leaders reminded themselves to "wade across the river by feeling out for stones" when initiating the reform in the late 1970s. Three decades into the drive, now they have landed on a "scientific megalith" which they hope to use as a theoretical platform to fine-tune the country's breakneck growth.
Chinese leader Hu Jintao's doctrine of the "Scientific Outlook on Development" on Sunday was incorporated into the Communist Party's constitution as a strategic polestar, which will predictably create a lasting political vogue with officials and media sparing no pains to repeat the catchword on any occasion they think proper.
It is by no means overdone to enshrine the scientific approach of development formulated at a time when China has to face and tackle a dilemma of increasing environmental and social woes vis-a- vis rapid economic growth.
Three decades of continuous development has not only created an economic miracle in China, but also led to environmental havoc as a result of high energy consumption and unchecked pollution along with a yawning wealth gap. Critics warn the problems, if not properly handled, may undermine social harmony and thus challenge the Party's leadership.
The strategy shift from a GDP-driven mode to the proposed scientific outlook, which underscores balanced and sustainable development, is also made in response to the ever increasing pressure from the international arena in which China, as a rising power, is expected to take on its due share of responsibility and faces fierce competition, such as the cases of combating global warming and curbing its ever rising trade surplus.
The scientific teaching is expected to offer a cure-all to the thorny issues. However, as Rome wasn't built in a day, the new outlook is far from being something that can be nurtured in a verbal way.
Rather than heartful verbal admiration, the doctrine needs to be honored with Party members and officials' concrete actions: They must follow the tenet in policy and decision making out of a faithful reverence to the Party's constitution, the most authoritative guiding line of the party, instead of repeating it as a sheer profession of personal allegiance to the leadership.
Although the central leadership has repeatedly warned to take a balanced, sustainable approach in developing local economy in recent years, the response to this plea has barely been visible among local officials, who have been habitually preoccupied with economic concerns but neglectful of environmental and social considerations as a result of decades of craze to achieve an ever increasing GDP growth.
Certainly the solution to the dilemma cannot simply rely on the change of mentality. To motivate officials, the country needs a new governance performance evaluation mechanism that no longer enshrines local GDP growth at the expense of all else, and a legal framework that has more teeth to bite.
It took the Chinese leadership nearly 30 years, in three generations, to grope on the way of reform and come up with the scientific development approach.
Assumably it will be equally painstaking and time-costing for the Party to brainwash all its 73 million members, with the nation at large, and equip them with the new outlook.
However, there seems to be no reason to be over worried, as the Party's resolve to shift to the scientific development approach has shown the ruling party has learnt the rope to govern the country under a tough domestic and international situation.
Now that the members of the world's largest political party have verbally and literally embarked on the scientific road, the next step for them is to take actions that match their political eloquence.
(Xinhua News Agency October 21, 2007)