Premier Li Keqiang delivers the Government Work Report at the opening of the annual full session of the 12th National People's Congress in Beijing on March 5 (XINHUA)
Editor's Note: At the opening of this year's full session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) on March 5, Premier Li Keqiang delivered the Government Work Report to some 2,900 national legislators, joined by members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). In the report, Li reviewed the work done in 2015 in detail and summarized the achievements attained in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period. The report also surveyed the conditions that China will face during the ongoing 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, and outlined the plans for the work to be done this year.
Beijing Review reporters Ni Yanshuo, Lan Xinzhen, Xu Bei, Zheng Yang, Yuan Yuan and Deng Yaqing spoke to NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members to hear their suggestions on the measures to help achieve the national development targets. Edited excerpts follow:
Zhang Yi (NPC deputy and former Minister of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council)
In the past five years, we have developed the economy to an adequate level, maintained social stability, deepened reform and made profound progress in combating corruption. The wellbeing of the Chinese people has been improved, and China's international status has continued to rise.
Even so, the coming five years will be an important period determining whether or not China can surmount the middle-income trap.
In addition to all the efforts being made to accomplish this target, we must pay special attention to the employment and social security of migrant workers, and strive to build a labor relation structure suited to China's economic development. That is crucial to the establishment of harmonious labor relations and laying solid foundations to ensure social harmony and stability.
Moreover, we must vigorously develop the real economy, which is crucial in overcoming the middle-income trap. Efforts should be made to upgrade traditional industries, raise the efficiency of enterprises, as well as vigorously boost innovation in technology, management and business models. These efforts will help endeavors to create new engines for economic growth.
China should also intensify the reform of state-owned enterprises, increase their sizes and improve their competitiveness, encourage and support non-public enterprises in the real economy and give full play to the role of various types of capital in supporting the real economy.
Chen Xiwen (CPPCC National Committee member and Deputy Director of the Central Rural Work Leading Group)
Premier Li pledged in the Government Work Report that efforts will be made to "guide farmers in adjusting what and how much they grow and breed in response to the market demand, and in making appropriate reductions to the amount of cultivated land that is devoted to growing corn." He also stressed following the principle of letting the market determine prices and de-linking subsidies from prices, as well as stating that the reform of the corn purchasing and storage system will be carried out in an active yet prudent way to ensure reasonable returns for farmers. This means that prices will be determined by the market. It is only through the market's determination of prices that China's produce can be competitive in the international market.
Since the number of farmers is substantial in China, each rural family can only run a small parcel of land, which weakens their competitiveness in the market. For this reason, it is necessary for the government to subsidize farmers to ensure reasonable returns for them. This policy is now in discussion. I expect that the reform of the corn purchasing and storage system will be launched as soon as possible.
Farmers should adjust the variety of grain crops that they will grow in accordance with the supply and demand of the market, so that domestic corn prices will be closer to prices on the international market. In the meantime, there should be no new excess stockpiles.
More importantly, farmers' interests must be protected. Therefore, the government should offer necessary subsidies in accordance with market prices in order to ensure farmers' income, balance supply and demand, strike equilibrium between the returns and costs for farmers, as well as ensure that the production of corn and other grain crops will better satisfy the market demand.
Wang Zhengwei (NPC deputy and Minister of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission)
While facing the pressures of an economic growth slowdown, we must be resolute in enforcing a number of policies ensuring stable economic growth as well as generating new supply and demand. Efforts to promote investment must be intensified, which will invigorate areas inhabited by ethnic minorities and underdeveloped areas, as well as guide private enterprises and the non-public sector to invest in China's western regions.
Liu Gexin (NPC deputy and Chairman of the Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.)
The pharmaceutical industry is facing various difficulties in its development: We started with shaky foundations and were suppressed at the low end of the industrial chain 20 years ago. However, China still lacks powerful policies to support leading Chinese pharmaceutical companies in breaking through the blockade of multinational corporations and improve the competitiveness of the Chinese pharmaceutical industry in the international market.
Developing transitional medicines will be conducive to the creation of new and original medicines.
China should also formulate laws on rare diseases as early as possible so as to promote the research and development of their treatment.
Gao Chunfang (CPPCC National Committee member and head of No.150 Central Hospital of the former Jinan Military Area Command of the People's Liberation Army)
China must set up a universal comprehensive medical service platform through which patients' information could be shared nationwide, emergency treatment procedures in major hospitals could be disseminated, and long-distance group consultations could be realized. This must be organized by the Central Government. Otherwise, there would be a huge waste of resources if various local governments establish their own platforms.
As for disease control, the diseases in question must be clearly listed. All these issues could be solved by the healthcare authority very quickly.
Deputies to the National People's Congress from Jiangsu Province participate in a panel discussion in Beijing on March 5 (WEI YAO)
Merdan Mugayt (NPC deputy and Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of China Committee of Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region)
Targeted poverty reduction programs entail clearly defining how to alleviate poverty, who to support and who will conduct such measures, so that the assistance can reach each poverty-stricken family. This will ensure that proper steps are taken to reduce poverty caused by different reasons.
In Aksu, there are two counties that receive state poverty relief—they plan to remove that status by 2017 and 2018, respectively. We are confident to lift 206,000 poor people in the counties out of poverty as scheduled. This is a mission that must be achieved.
There is a fast-growing textile and clothing industrial base in Aksu, which can provide a certain number of job opportunities.
Moreover, since natural conditions in those two counties are better than in other places, farmers are more capable of raising their income by improving their agricultural practices.
Another important measure is to tackle poverty through education, which is crucial to creating a richer society and economy.
In recent years, the Central Government and other regions in the country have increased their efforts in assisting education in Xinjiang, from primary schools to colleges, ensuring that every local family have well-educated members. In regions with harsh natural conditions, people are relocated to areas with better resources for living and production.
Also, in regard to impoverished people having no capacity to work or suffering from chronic diseases, poverty alleviation through the rural minimum subsistence allowance system are conducted, so that social safety covers all of Aksu's poverty-stricken population.
Zhou Mingwei (CPPCC National Committee member and President of the China International Publishing Group)
In this year's Government Work Report, Premier Li vowed to improve the overall caliber of the population and raise the level of civility in China's society. A moderately prosperous society in all respects should not just be measured by GDP or by per-capita income. It must also include the aspects that Premier Li vowed to improve. The overall caliber of the population and the level of civility in society should be a new measuring-stick and a necessary part of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
History has proved that a man with fortune in pocket is not necessarily a man with a fortune in his brain. The whole society should work together to ensure that the Chinese are rich both in material and in mind. An improvement in the overall character of the population is also a reflection of a country's soft power and its image. As the Chinese economy is better developed and becomes more open, the country's image is displayed through two lenses. The first is through products made in China, through which the international community can understand China better. The second is through Chinese people's behavior. Each year more than 100 million Chinese travel abroad for various purposes. Their manner of conduct and the values that they pursue whilst overseas have become part of China's national identity.
Therefore, the government should make more detailed plans for improving the overall stature of the population and raising the level of decorum in society, and continue to mobilize as many people as possible across the country to participate in the campaign for maximum effect.
Li Ningping (CPPCC National Committee member and President of the Gansu Province Electric Power Investment Group Corp.)
Since Gansu Province abounds in resources and high energy-consuming enterprises maintain a dominant position in related sectors, the ongoing structural reform has had a strong impact on some local enterprises. On the other hand, some local government leaders are reluctant to eliminate enterprises dogged by overcapacity because they've devoted great energy to advancing their development in the past years. Despite that, efforts should still be made to cut excess industrial capacity. Otherwise, local development will hit a bottleneck and be hindered by further problems.
Zhao Tiechui (CPPCC National Committee member and former Deputy Director of the State Administration of Work Safety)
The concept of public safety was first put forward in the 2016 Government Work Report. The public safety system encompasses food, drug and workplace safety, disaster prevention, mitigation and relief, as well as social security. A key point is the legislation on public safety and the inclusion of this area into the education system.
In my opinion, regulations for the implementation of the Production Safety Law should be released during the 13th Five-Year Plan period.
In addition, I think an emphasis should be laid on helping enterprises get out of predicaments. On this front, Premier Li suggested that efforts be made in facilitating overcapacity cuts in struggling enterprises in the coal and steel sectors, and also letting the market play a decisive role in the process. He also outlined that local governments should be responsible for coordinating the efforts to reduce excess capacity, and that the Central Government renders its support to them. This would help press ahead with the work in an orderly way, and actively yet prudently tackle zombie companies that are heavily indebted and cannot survive without external support.
Song Beishan (CPPCC National Committee member and former Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce )
Innovation is one of the five development ideas put forward in the 13th Five-Year Plan and a key factor in driving future economic growth. To promote innovation and make China a magnet for innovators, the most important thing we need to do is to protect intellectual property rights (IPRs). To achieve higher levels of quality in commodities produced in China, we need to protect the rights and interests of innovators and punish those who infringe on their rights. Current IPR policies face a number of problems involving a lack of effective punishments for violations, low penalty costs, and expensive safeguarding measures. Inadequate IPR protection is a lingering problem restraining innovation-driven development.
In his Government Work Report, Premier Li stressed that China will strengthen the protection and use of IPRs and look to the law to crack down on the infringement upon these rights and on the production and sale of counterfeit products. How will the government clamp down on IPR infringement? To what extent should we strengthen the protection and use of IPRs? These questions and more are worthy of further examination.
Copyedited by Bryan Michael Galvan
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