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China Vows to Take Better Care of Poor Farmers
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The Chinese authorities said Thursday economic policies will be continued, aiming to maintain fast, stable growth in the new year. Work should be done to make economic expansion more efficient, and help the rural poor left behind by a two-decade boom. The nation's leadership put forward major tasks for economic work next year at a key, closed-door meeting beginning Tuesday, addressed by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.


Fast growth is imperative for increasing national strength and effectively relieving contradictions in economic and social development, said a statement issued after the meeting.


The statement emphasized it is a "long-term, strategic principle" to increase domestic demand. It said efforts should be made to adjust the relationship between investment and consumption, adding the centerpiece job is to increase spending, especially the farmers' expenditure.


China's economy has been largely driven by investment over the past decade. Reckless investment in sectors such as steel and real estate has fanned worries for an overheating economy in recent years, forcing the government to take a slew of measures, including bank lending cuts and stricter provision of land for industrial use.


The statement said the country, however, should maintain a "reasonable" investment size, while optimizing the investment structure and keeping a tight lid on new projects.


Investment in fixed assets, an indicator of how much the government spends on roads, power plants and other infrastructure and factory equipment, rose 24 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters this year, official figures show.


The government also vowed to work to optimize the structure of imports and exports and resolve trade imbalance, a reference to the facts that China's export commodities are mostly labor-intensive and contributed by foreign-funded firms, and that China has a large trade surplus with the United States.


The United States has been demanding China further revalue its currency to help remove their trade imbalance. China, however, says the United States should allow more export goods involving state-of-the-art technologies.


China's economy, Asia's second largest, grew a brisk 9.4 percent in the first three quarters, with inflation having fallen to a moderate 2 percent, government figures show.


As a new concept and "common action" of the whole Party and nation, "new socialist countryside" was highlighted at the meeting. The statement said it features growing production, better livelihood, cultural development, clean villages and democratic management of village affairs.


It said measures should be boosted to raise the farmers' income, calling for speeding up the construction of basic facilities and increase investment in rural education, culture and public health. The development of eastern, central and western areas should be more balanced.


"More attention should be paid on social fairness and justice, promotion of social harmony and social stability."


Another emphasis of economic work is placed on sharpening the competitive edge of domestic enterprises and helping them build popular brands.


The statement said it is urgent to accelerate industrial restructuring by using advanced technology to upgrade traditional industries and eliminate out-of-date productive forces.


Based on a "scientific concept of development," efforts will be intensified to save resources and protect the environment, while deepening the reform and opening wider to the outside world for win-win results between China and other countries.


In an interview with Xinhua, Zhang Liqun, a research fellow with the State Development and Research Center, forecasted a 9 percent growth pace for 2006, on the back of a 10-plus percent rise in consumer demand and 20-plus jump in investment in China.


(Xinhua News Agency December 2, 2005)


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