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UPDATED: March 18, 2011 NO. 12 MARCH 24, 2011
A New Chapter

China's development in the past five years has been great. Its GDP grew 11.2 percent on average annually to become the world's second largest at 39.8 trillion yuan ($6.05 trillion) last year and fiscal revenue rose to 8.31 trillion yuan ($1.26 trillion) from 3.16 trillion yuan ($481 billion).

Premier Wen Jiabao said at a press conference after the annual session of the National People's Congress on March 14 that China would continue to "put people's interests first" and strive for "comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development."

Earlier, in his Government Work Report, Wen had pledged to improve the people's well-being comprehensively during China's next five-year development period.

Wen's remarks can be seen as a response to the public's call for greater efforts to ensure more people share the bonus of development and that there is fairness in the process.

After more than 30 years of fast growth, China is now at the stage of wealth accumulation. To many of its people, adequate food and clothing are no longer their all-consuming concerns. They are pursuing a well-off life.

At the same time, a number of problems concerning people's well-being are becoming evident. These are: unfairness in income distribution, the widening gap between different regions and different social groups, employment difficulties and rising educational, medical, housing burdens on middle- and low-income earners.

Healthy and sustainable social and economic development is conditional on an all-inclusive growth mode oriented toward people's well-being. When people become wealthy, their increased investment and purchasing power will propel the country to greater development.

With this consensus, wealth distribution, instead of economic growth, became the hottest debate at this year's full sessions of the lawmaking National People's Congress and advisory National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

There are reform programs in the works.

For instance, the cut-off point of the personal income tax will be raised. This is a breakthrough in the entire financial and taxation reform. And the overhaul of the income distribution system will be accelerated as announced in Premier Wen's work report.

The government has also pledged to tighten management of inflation, implement monetary policy more flexibly, improve public services in education, healthcare and public transportation, and raise public security standards. These efforts not only meet the people's immediate demands but also push forward the construction of an effective mechanism to guarantee the long-term improvement of their living standards.

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