China's annual GDP growth has averaged more than 8 percent in the past 25 years, and in 2003, its GDP grew by a record-breaking 9.1 percent despite the outbreak last year in China of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ("SARS"). Other signs of China's overall improving economic strength in 2003:
* The total government revenue was 2.17 trillion yuan (US$261.4 billion), 278.7 billion yuan (US$33.58 billion) more than the previous year.
* Foreign trade expanded significantly. Total import and export volume was US$851.2 billion, 37.1 percent more than the previous year, raising China from fifth to fourth place in the world;
* China created more jobs than planned. Some 8.59 million urban residents became employed, with 4.4 million laid-off workers re-employed;
* Personal incomes increased. Urban per capita disposable income grew by 9 percent in real terms, and rural per capita net income rose by 4.3 percent in real terms.
Noting these economic achievements as well as the complete success of China's first manned space flight in 2003, Premier Wen Jiabao in his annual address to the NPC in March 2004 pointed to a national strength that has reached new heights. At the same time, Premier Wen put forward only a moderate 7 percent growth target for the year ahead to seek to improve the socialist market economy through a "people-centered development" that coordinates development of the economy, society and individuals. CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao summed up the approach as a "scientific concept of development."