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Building new countryside, China's historic choice

  时间:2006-03-17 15:52    来源:     

Zang Min, a 43-year-old beekeeper, used to lead a merry life, but smiles are fading away from his face since he can hardly make a profit from his honey export to the United States as before.

Zang, a native of Hushan village in Feidong County of East China's Anhui Province, could score a net income of 50,000 yuan (about 6,210 U.S. dollars) each year before the U.S. imposed an anti-dumping tariff as high as 183 percent on China's honey products.

"I was traveling with my bees and collecting honey around the country last year, but I eventually failed to recover my expenses after selling the honey to the United States," Zang said.

The sudden changes in the external environment have plunged Zang's life into an predicament.

Zang, who has been in the trade for eight years, is raising only 100 hives of bees as against 150 in the past, since "the more you raise, the more you loose," he complained.

However, Zang's life is likely to have a turn for the better, thanks to the historic decision of the central government to rally all possible resources to change the backward situation in the vast rural areas.

The participants to the annual sessions of China's top legislature and advisory body will mull over the hot topic of building a new countryside.

Zang hopes that the decision will help many poverty-stricken areas including his native village become prosperous and rich like many parts of the country.

The fourth sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which are taken as significant political events in China, will be held on March 3 and March 5 successively.

"My family and I are expecting good news from the NPC and CPPCC annual sessions," Zang said.

The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) hopes to boost rural productivity, improve infrastructure construction, promote social development and deepen democracy in the countryside as well as increase the living standards of farmers, Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the Office of the Central Financial Work Leading Group said.

Kang Shaobang, a research fellow with the Research Institute of International Strategies under the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said international background and other factors were also taken into consideration when the Party was considering a making such a decision.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said in the opening remarks at the seminar for provincial and central government ministers on building a new countryside that the global economic development is becoming more unbalanced, the competition for resources, markets, technologies and talented personnel is turning scorching, and trade protectionism is a common thing.

All these are posing new threats to China's economic and social development.

According to a report recently published by the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), the assistance and subsidies granted to farmers by EU countries account for 34 percent of farmers' total income, those by the United States 20 percent, and 58 percent and 64 percent respectively in Japan and the Republic of Korea, but only 6 percent in China.

Experts said that trade protectionism has forced many Chinese including beekeeper Zang fall to become victims.

The losses of China's agricultural products have run up to billions of dollars due to green and technology barriers set by some foreign countries.

Therefore, China is making hard efforts to reduce its heavy dependence on investment and export and is set to maintain steady and rapid development by fueling more domestic demand, experts said.

China's dependence on foreign trade was high as 60 percent last year, but consumption only contributed 33 percent to economic development.

Lan Haitao, an expert from the Macroeconomics Research Academy under the State Development and Reform Commission, said that the goal (of building socialist countryside) can not be reached without significant improvement in rural consumption power.

"The rural market is the stabilizer of China's economy in the future," he said.

Tang Min, chief economist with the Asian Development Bank's China office, echoed his view, saying the construction of a new countryside can help solve the problem.

In China's rural areas, where the population accounts for 72 percent of the country's total, the proportion of retail sales of consumer goods in the total retail sales of consumer goods has dropped from 65.7 percent in 1980 to 32.9 percent in 2005. The expanding income disparity between urban and rural areas, which is3.22: 1, constitutes the main factor in this regard.

Peace, development and cooperation remain the irresistible trend of the times, but the international environment is changing rapidly and unpredictably. Factors leading to instability and uncertainty in peace and development are on the rise, and are posing new challenges to China's security.

"Only when the problems relating to agriculture, rural areas and farmers have been solved properly, can China's economy develop in the correct direction," said a CPC document.

"It is an important historic mission China must accomplish on its road toward modernization," it said. "This should become a common understanding of the entire Party and the whole society."

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