ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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China's New Priorities

The Chinese Communist Party decides to promote balanced development in a “harmonious society”.

The 17th national congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has announced in no uncertain terms that addressing the problems of social and regional disparities, environmental degradation and corruption are as important as pursuing economic growth. If the 16th congress in 2002, which brought about the political transition from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao as the CPC general secretary, became known for its slogan of building “a moderately well off society” by 2020, the recent party congress will be remembered for the formulation of a “scientific concept of development” that has been added to the CPC constitution. It seeks to emphasise the goal of comprehensive and balanced development, combining growth with social justice and environmental sustainability in order to build a “harmonious society”.

Several ideas and policies that had been initiated during the past five years have now been formally put together in the general secretary’s report to the congress to set the direction of China’s development in the next five years. The fourth generation leadership with Hu Jintao and prime minister Wen Jiabao began to respond to the new problems in Chinese society soon after taking over and started talking about “putting people first” in all policies beginning in 2003. Thereafter, Hu Jintao frequently spoke about the need to achieve “five balances”: between urban and rural conditions, between coastal and western regions, between economic development and social development, between economic growth and environmental sustainability, and between domestic development and the world situation. The initiatives of the Hu-Wen leadership have now crystallised into the party’s collective perspective on “scientific concept of development” and have been presented as an effort at constantly updating Marxism to suit the specific conditions of the time.

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