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Special Report: Foreign experts parse challenges for China and possible solutions
2013/03/05
  

BEIJING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Foreign experts have pointed out several severe challenges China has to face in the short term to maintain robust growth, a key topic to be discussed at the annual "two sessions" that started Sunday.

The nearly two-week sessions of China's legislature, the National People's Congress, and its advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, are widely seen as an occasion to bring people and ideas together to draft possible solutions to China's many problems on its own unique path of development.

SUSTAINABLE GROWTH

"China is now at an important moment of history," said Jorge Castro, a China expert and chief of Argentina's Strategic Planning Institute.

"China's exports-led economy is showing signs of slower growth, and government investment in fixed assets is nearly saturated ... We can say China has completed its development in terms of quantity, and the next-step improvement in quality is a major challenge for the new Chinese leadership," Castro said.

Foreign experts say consumption, innovation, and the green economy are key for China to achieve quality growth.

Adel Sabry, former vice chief editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Wafd, said China should become a leader of the world economy, not just a provider of raw materials and manufactured goods.

INCOME GAP

Kim Jin Ho, an international relations professor from the Dan Kook University of South Korea, said that how to narrow the widening income gap and accomplish "common prosperity for all" is a major difficulty for China's reforms.

Yakov Berger, senior analyst at the Institute of Far-Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted China has already begun reforms of its income distribution system.

To strengthen its middle class, China has to push for reforms, including its tax system and the primary and secondary income distribution, he said.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

China's increasingly prominent "livelihood" issues have also raised concerns among experts.

"Many social problems, such as environmental pollution, housing, education and healthcare cannot be solved overnight," said Jose Luis Robaina, a renowned Cuban expert on China.

These problems need several decades of steady effort by the Chinese people, Robaina said.

Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King's College London, suggested China may learn from Britain's experience of making relevant laws to curb air pollution.

Tokyo University professor Takahara Akio said it necessary to make environmental compliance part of government officials' performance evaluation and monitor their progress.

CORRUPTION

"How to root out corruption effectively is one of the most thorny issues for the new Chinese cabinet," said Mahmoud Allam, former Egyptian ambassador to China.

China can build up an effective legal mechanism to prevent, supervise and punish acts of corruptions, and engage the media and the public in the fight, Allam said.

Suh Seong-hwan, a professor at South Korea's Yonsei University, lauded China's emphasis on targeting both "the tiger and the fly" in its anti-graft drive, and suggested long-term and systematic moral education to eradicate the soil that breeds corruption.

CLEARING OBSTACLES WITH COURAGE, WISDOM

Speaking of further reforms, Berger said the 30-plus years of experience has proven that socialism with Chinese characteristics is a successful and effective development path for China.

"But no matter what type of development mode you choose, it won't be efficacious forever. It should keep abreast of the times," he said.

Julio Rios, a China expert in Spain, also said China should not underestimate the difficulty of its future reforms.

"China's transformation relies on not only economic reform and technical innovation, but also a deep correction in a series of issues, including income structure, production pattern, social system and regional imbalance," he said.

Such reforms will certainly have an impact on the vested interests of different groups, Rios added.

For China, only reforms can solve such problems during its development as imbalance, discordance and unsustainability, as well as structural and institutional barriers that hamper scientific development.

In the past, some countries were caught in the middle-income trap and became bogged down in economic stagnation and setback due to a lack of steady, resolute in-depth reforms.

"Were history confined to the mechanical repetition of the past, no transformation would ever have occurred. Every great achievement was a vision before it became a reality," said Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state.

History will prove that China, in the face of a bumpy road ahead, has the courage and wisdom to overcome various difficulties during its development.

 
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