• Lifted 14.42m out of poverty
From Ikenna Emewu in Beijing
In January this year, the government of China announced 330 planned changes in the management of the economy.
Number one on the list was a proposed change to move China’s economy from the demand end of the rung to the supply end. Yet, this is an economy that has sustained an export/import GDP content of about 60 per cent, which experts say equals the total for USA and Japan since 2013. This percentage balance had remained hugely tilted in favour of exports. With the projection, it sounds like China’s intention to spawn economic magic is just about to gather momentum.
That intention was to ensure that the economy took a more positive and virile turn and make more gains.
Spring’s Two Sessions
This was one of the major fallouts of the famed Spring Two sessions in the political calendar of China. The name arises from the top political gatherings and deliberations that start early March every year and last for at least two weeks at the Great Peoples Hall, Beijing. There, over 2, 000 political policy makers assemble in what is the equivalent of the Chinese national parliament. They don’t meet as fanfare. The meeting is stocktaking, policy formulation and policy deliberation to lay the foundation for the country’s next move in the year in view.
But before they get down to projecting on what must be done in the year ahead, the leaders first brief the nation on how it fared in the past year.
Mega media feast
A minimum of 15 press briefings that feature the international and local media hold during the period. At the briefings, journalists feel free to take on the government officials and spokespersons that conduct the briefings. This year, the National Communist Party (NCP) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) announced on March 3 that over 3, 200 media persons and agencies were accredited to cover the events, among them are about 1, 000 journalists from the international media. At the kick-off event that announced the commencement of the CPPCC and NCP annual political event a day earlier, the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPPCC, Wang Guoqing, took all the questions and addressed all issues regarding the event in a briefing that lasted for close three hours.
The Sun makes debut
It was during that event that Daily Sun asked the government the rationale for laying off 1.8m workers from the coal corporation in less than one month of the commencement of the China’s Second Child Policy. The policy was a reversal of the one child rule that has been on in China in the past 30 years. The government of China announced that the policy would create at least 30million births in the next 10 years, which implies more mouths to feed.
Daily Sun requested to know why China should be laying off workers when they would actually face the task of feeding more children.
In response, Guoqing coached that the policy had been well thought out before its commencement, as a means of staving off a fast aging population of China that would cause a crisis in the next 20 years if not arrested.
Steady and stable
Two days after this pre-event briefing, which was the second day of the commencement of the Spring Two sessions, the Chinese Premier, who is the second in command, Li Keqiang, stood before close to 6, 000 people in the Great People’s Hall to announce for over two hours the strides of the government in 2015. He took the issues one by one and gave adequate answers to what were achieved and in conclusion rolled out what the government plans to do in its 13th five-year development plan that starts this year to end in 2020. That would be the 65th unbroken years of Chinese development plans that started in 1949 after the People’s Revolution.
In these years, China has enjoyed unequalled leadership consistency on the shoulders of just five leaders or administrations.
The revolution that came as civil war brought the Communist Party to power after defeating the Nationalist Party led by Chiang Kai Shek that controlled the island China region of Taiwan, reason Taiwan and the mainland China still have some tensions till date. Mao Zedong, leader of the revolution, led China till he died in September 1976 after which Hua Guofeng took over briefly. He was succeeded in 1979 by the real game changer, Deng Xiaoping, whose policy thrust was making wealth and growing the economy as against Zedong’s security focus.
When Deng expired, Jian Zhemin took over and was later succeeded by the present Xi Jinping. The development policy of China has remained stable and unruffled till date.
100 per cent clean bill
Li, the Premier, with President Ji, and others seated told China and the world with all boldness that in 2015, the government met all its obligations and kept its word in moving the country in the right direction. In the 38-page paper presented on March 5 on ‘Report of the Work of the Government,’ he itemised the “China’s Economic and Social Development in 2015.”
The list had 11 points of accomplishment to include that: “Progress was achieved and stability ensured in economic and social development; GDP reached 67.7 trillion Yuan, representing an increase of 6.9 per cent over 2014 – a growth rate faster than most of other major economies; Consumer prices grew slowly; a total of 13.12 million new urban jobs were created; the service sector as a proportion of the GDP rose to 50.5 per cent.”
Other points included that: “The contribution of consumption towards economic growth reached 66.4 per cent; energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 5.6 per cent; number of newly registered businesses rose by 21.6 per cent, or an average of 12,000 new businesses per day; personal disposable income per capita increased by 7.4 per cent in real terms; and that: “The number of rural residents living in poverty was reduced by 14.42 million.”
Peculiar political order
However, with the vibrancy of the Chinese democracy and political system, a peculiar system where nine political parties exist in the same NCP, with intra party fierce opposition, nobody has yet faulted the position of the government.
What is pertinent is that the Chinese politburo is made of very versed experts in so many fields with over 2, 000 members at the top rung of the ladder, the deliberation of the NCP and the CPPCC (Two Sessions) is no child’s play. It is a tough political gamble that takes all forms of shock and comes out at last with the policy it could formulate and pursue.
Projecting for 2016
Having satisfied itself with last year’s clean performance that caused a growth of the GDP by 6.9 per cent, China’s government in this period sets targets for itself to enhance the supply end of the economy by increasing production and its diversity. That was the number one priority of the government in the 330 planned reforms.
Li’s thesis of March 5 spelt out that the government plans: “To double the 2010 GDP and per capita personal income, hit an annual GDP growth rate of 6.5 per cent or above, spend 2.5 per cent of the GDP on research and development (R&D).
“Science and technology’s contribution to economic growth is projected at 60 per cent; permanent urban residents of 60 per cent of the total population would be achieved; registered permanent urban residents of 45 per cent of the total population is in view, while high-speed railways in service of 30,000km would link 80 per cent of the big cities.”
The government further promised that “30,000km expressways would be built or upgraded. There would be ‘full coverage of access to broadband networks; improvements to the environment in the following areas; Water consumption per unit of GDP to drop by 23 per cent; energy consumption per unit of GDP to drop by 15 per cent; carbon dioxide emission would drop by 18 per cent; lift of all rural residents falling below the current poverty line out of poverty to be pursued; creation of at least 50million more urban jobs and provision of 20 million houses to be rebuilt in urban rundown areas,’ are also in view.”
Yes, they will deliver
Expressing confidence in the projection of the government for 2016 and the validity of its stocktaking in 2015, Prof. Jin Canrong, an associate dean of the International Relations Department of the Renmin University of China, one of the best authorities in international relations in China, said the government has the capacity to keep the mandate. He assured Daily Sun that while China cannot boast to operate a perfect system, the political tension is calm enough to engender progress and hot enough to checkmate excesses of power.
He said the leadership of the country has been stable over time and achieved much and with the indicators on ground, expert opinions would always favour the government living up to its tasks and keeping the mandate that has sustained a higher tempo of upward positive movement at least since year 2000.