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The First Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) opens in Beijing

Report from Beijing, March 5 March in Beijing, the spring breeze is pleasantly warm and everything looks new and fresh. The First Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) opens at 9 am today. Nearly 3,000 NPC deputies from across the country and various nationalities gather in the Great Hall of the People to exercise the sacred right endowed by the people.

Premier Wen Jiabao, on behalf of the State Council, delivered the report on the work of the government.

When he reviewed the work of the past five years, Wen Jiabao indicated that, the past five years since the First Session of the 11th NPC were a truly extraordinary period of time in the course of China’s development. We effectively countered the severe impact of the global financial crisis and maintained steady and fast economic development. China’s GDP increased from 26.6 trillion Yuan to 51.9 trillion Yuan, and now ranks the second in the world. We made significant socialist economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress, and wrote a new chapter in building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Speaking of the main work accomplished over the past five years and its main features, Wen Jiabao pointed out that we averted the grievous consequences of the global financial crisis in the past five years. We responded to the crisis calmly, made timely and decisive adjustments to the focus of macro-control, adopted ten measures to increase domestic demand and promote steady and rapid economic growth, and implemented a comprehensive package plan. In a two-year period, an additional four trillion Yuan of government investment was made, with 1.26 trillion Yuan from the central government, mainly for building government-subsidized housing, improving rural people’s well being, building infrastructure, developing social programs, improving the environment, promoting innovation, and carrying out post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. We adhered to the new path of industrialization with distinctive Chinese features and promoted transformation and upgrading of industrial sectors. Strategic emerging industries grew rapidly, including clean energy, energy conservation, environmental protection, next-generation information and communication technology, biomedicines, and high-end equipment manufacturing. We made steady progress in conserving energy, reducing emissions, and protecting the environment. Over the past five years, the following backward production facilities were closed: iron works with a total output capacity of 117 million tons, steel mills with a capacity of 78 million tons and cement plants with a capacity of 775 million tons. Moreover, in the past five years, daily urban sewage treatment capacity increased by 46 million tons. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 17.2%. Total chemical oxygen demand fell by 15.7%. Total sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 17.5%. Environmental air quality standards were revised. The air quality index for monitoring fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was added. Progress was made in major ecological projects to protect virgin forests, afforest marginal farmland, and prevent and control desertification. Over the past five years, an additional 29.53 million hectares of land were planted with trees. Desertification was halted on 11.96 million hectares of land. Soil erosion on 246,000 square kilometers of land was brought under control. A total of 180,000 square kilometers of land were improved. We implemented the master strategy for regional development, promulgated and implemented the national plan for developing functional zones, formulated new 10-year guidelines for the large-scale development of the western region and a number of regional development plans.
Wen Jiabao emphasized that we are keenly aware that we still face many difficulties and problems in our economic and social development. Unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remains a prominent problem. There is a growing conflict between downward pressure on economic growth and excessive production capacity. Business operating costs are rising while innovative capabilities are inadequate. The growth of government revenue is slowing down while fixed government expenditures are increasing. There are potential risks in the financial sector. The industrial structure is irrational. The agricultural foundation is still weak. Economic development is increasingly in conflict with resource conservation and environmental protection. The development gap between urban and rural areas and between regions is large, and so are income disparities between individuals. Social problems have increased markedly, and many problems in the areas of education, employment, social security, medical care, housing, the environment, food and drug safety, work safety, and public order affect people’s vital interests. Some people still lead hard lives. There are many defects in systems and mechanisms that hinder scientific development. The transformation of government functions has not been fully carried out, and some areas are prone to corruption. Some of these problems have built up over time, while others have emerged in the course of economic and social development, and still others have been caused by inadequacies and weaknesses in our government work.
He also stressed that, the year 2013 is the first year for fully carrying out the guiding principles of the Party’s Eighteenth National Congress, a crucial year for continuing to implement the Twelfth Five-Year Plan and an important year for laying a solid foundation for finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China remains in an important period of strategic opportunities during which much can be accomplished. There are many favorable conditions and positive factors as well as a number of risks and challenges for China’s economic and social development. The profound impact of the global financial crisis persists, and the recovery of the world economy is full of uncertainty and not yet on a stable footing. We should realize that the situation is encouraging and so remain confident; but also that it is complex and so be mindful of adversity, have a keen sense of urgency, and industriously and earnestly do our work well.
According to Wen, the general requirements for this year’s work are as follows: to thoroughly study and fully implement the guiding principles of the Eighteenth Party Congress, hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of “Three Represents” and the Scientific Outlook on Development, cling tightly to the main theme and main thread, focus on improving the quality and performance of economic growth, comprehensively promote socialist economic, political, cultural, social and ecological progress, achieve sustained, healthy economic growth and social harmony and stability. In setting this year’s target for economic growth at about 7.5%, we have taken two factors into account. On the one hand, we need to continue to seize opportunities and promote development. Over the years, the capacity of China’s manufacturing industry has increased considerably and our infrastructure has improved significantly, which means they are better able to sustain development. The rate of savings has been high, and the size of the workforce has remained large. We must better allocate and employ factors of production and maintain a proper level of economic growth in order to provide necessary conditions for creating jobs and improving people’s well being and to create a stable environment for changing the growth model and adjusting the economic structure. We must ensure that economic growth is in accord with the potential economic growth rate, the ability to supply factors of production, and the bearing capacity of resources and the environment. On the other hand, we should, in accordance with the Scientific Outlook on Development, guide all the people to shift the focus of their work to accelerating the change of the growth model, adjusting the economic structure and improving the quality and performance of economic growth, so as to promote sustained and healthy economic development.
By offering suggestions for the work of the government this year, Wen Jiabao indicated that we should energetically change the growth model and speed up structural adjustment of industry. China’s productive forces develop on multiple levels, which gives us plenty of room to maneuver. Industries, whether traditional or emerging, labor-intensive or capital-intensive, all have room for development. The important task is to optimize resources allocation and industrial distribution, and solve the following problems: excess production capacity, the lack of core technology, products with low value-added, low-level and redundant industrial projects, and different regions having similar industrial structures.
Wen emphasized that in response to people’s expectations of having a good living environment, we should greatly strengthen ecological improvement and environmental protection. The state of the ecological environment affects the level of people’s well being and also posterity and the future of our nation. We should adhere to the basic state policy of conserving resources and protecting the environment and endeavor to promote green, circular, and low-carbon development. We should greatly boost the conservation and reuse of energy and resources, give priority to saving energy in industry, transportation and construction and in public institutions, restrict total energy consumption, and reduce energy and materials consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. We should speed up adjusting the economic structure and distribution and upgrading related standards, practices, and laws and regulations. We should adopt effective measures to prevent and control pollution and change the way we work and live. We should resolve to solve the problems of serious air, water, and soil pollution that affect the people’s vital interests; improve environmental quality, and safeguard people’s health and give the people hope through our concrete action. We should do our meteorological, geological and seismic work well and become better able to prevent and mitigate natural disasters. We should optimize development of the country’s territory, carry out development at a proper pace and adjust its spatial layout. We should strengthen comprehensive marine management, develop the marine economy, become better able to exploit marine resources, protect the marine ecological environment, and safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests. We should continue to fully implement the master strategy for regional development and promote balanced development between regions.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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