Following the release of the second-quarter economic data, the market has been increasingly concerned about downward trends in China\’s economic indicators.

Some said that slower economic growth would lead to a series of economic and social problems, such as falling incomes and rising unemployment. Some experts believe that the tight microeconomic policies will cause a large-scale deflation after restoring the inflation to a normal level, resulting in a dramatic transition in China\’s economy from overly hot to overly cold.

[b]Opportunities amid drop in economic growth [/b]

In response to the market concerns, the National Bureau of Statistics released latest economic data: China\’s GDP growth rate has stood between 9.5 percent and 10 percent for four consecutive quarters. National Bureau of Statistics Spokesman Sheng Laiyun said, \”The growth rate is relatively high in terms of both the targets set in China\’s 12th Five-Year Plan and the international standard.\”

Although some major economic indicators behind the relatively high growth rate should be further adjusted to lower levels, Fang Zulan, a professor at the School of Economics under Renmin University of China, said that China\’s economy will not suffer a “hard landing” because there are greater development opportunities despite the drop in the economic growth.

\”China is in the transition period of development structure and industrial model, which is different from developed Western countries. Therefore, although there are some serious problems, there are also many opportunities in the transition. The key of seizing the current opportunity is to tap the potential of human capital,\” Fang said.

Fang also said that management layer should be open-minded and create conditions to maximize the potential of human capital rather than simply control the capital. The largest infrastructure construction of a country is no longer the construction of airports and roads but the release and construction of human capital. Fang believes China will not miss the opportunity of transformation if it completes the infrastructure construction.

David Beim, a U.S. professor, also pointed out that the economic slowdown would lay a more solid foundation for China\’s development in the future.

\”No country but China could maintain such a high-speed growth for 30 consecutive years, which is very remarkable. China\’s economic growth will slow down in the future. However, it does not mean that China will stop developing. The slight slowdown will make China look more like a normal country, not a particular country,\” Beim said.

[b]Speed is absolutely not the key[/b]

Many experts believe the speed of economic growth is absolutely not the key in the current China\’s economy, and the truly important core of China\’s economy is the transformation of development mode during the 12th Five-Year Plan period and even over a longer period of time.

\”Growth rate is not the only index measuring China\’s economic strength,\” Fang said. She also said that China\’s economic growth mainly depended on the export-oriented original equipment manufacture formed by low-quality labor. However, the profit margin has become increasingly small. Therefore, China must go on expanding domestic demand. The current transformation mainly refers to a more fundamental reform in aspects such as institution and culture.
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A Chinese proverb goes, \”Be mindful of possible danger in times of peace.\” Being vigilant against dangers in times of peace should be a fundamental characteristic and political duty of a ruling party.

CPC Central Committee General-Secretary Hu Jintao warned all Party members in his July 1 speech that the Party is confronted with growing dangers of sluggish mentally, being incompetent, alienating the masses, and being dispirited and corrupt. He stressed that cracking down on and preventing corruption is crucial for gaining the people\’s support and ensuring the survival of the Party. If not effectively curbed, corruption will cost the Party the trust and support of the people. Hu\’s remarks are enlightening and thought provoking.

In the process of revolution, construction and reform in China that has been carried out in the past 90 years, preventing the \”political risk\” caused by corruption was always an issue that the Party prioritized and actively tried to solve. Mao Zedong once warned the Party that corruption would be a fundamental reason for turmoil in socialist societies. Minor corruption would lead to opposition and the dissatisfaction of the masses, and severe corruption would lead to \”a second revolution\” and change the color of the Party and country.

Deng Xiaoping once educated the Party, \”If China goes in the wrong direction, it will be caused by the internal problems of the Party\” and \”if we do not fight against and punish the corruption, especially the corruption of senior officials, it is quite possible our Party will die.\”

Judging from the Party\’s ruling practice, corruption is a very prominent factor that can cause fatal injuries to the Party during the peace-building period. Judging from the world political history, a ruling party can maintain its ruling position and safeguard national stability and development only through firmly opposing and effectively preventing corruption.

The Party and the government launched the campaign of combating corruption and building a clean government based on the overall situation of the Party and the country in the recent years. China\’s anti-corruption ability continues to increase, the anti-corruption strategy continues to be improved and the fight against corruption continues to deepen.

The Party urgently needs to seriously study the deep background of the \”risk of passive corruption\” and continues to strengthen its ability to fight against degeneration and withstand risks when facing the spread of various new corruption phenomena, the severe anti-corruption situation and the arduous task of fighting against corruption.

The corruption of power is the concentrated expression of corruption. All kinds of corruption phenomena are hidden in power. The corruption of power comes from the dissimilation of power. All kinds of power dissimilation deviate from the Party\’s duty of being built for the public and exercising state power for the people, and will cause the phenomenon of seeking private gain through power, which will harm the credibility of the Party and the government and the interests of the country and the people.

Facts have proven that corruption is always the results of the failure of objective and subjective defense lines. The power without self-discipline will inevitably go astray; the power without supervision will surely lead to corruption. Therefore, leading officials at all levels must bear in mind that their power is entrusted to them by the people and can only be used in the interests of the people, and they must not turn their power into a tool of making interests for themselves or a hand of individuals; they can only be confident to guard against the dangers of corruption by building a solid spiritual defense line and developing the immunity against corruption.

Furthermore, Hu Jintao said, \”In exercising power, we must serve the people, hold ourselves accountable to them, and readily subject ourselves to their oversight.\” This type of oversight should be performed not only by systems but by establishing and improving related restraint and supervision systems, improving intra-Party democratic supervision systems and ensuring that leading officials conform to statutory authority and procedures when exercising their power but also by the people, as well as promoting the transparency of Party and government affairs and making the exercise of the power transparent and under the oversight of the masses. The masses can play significant roles in combating corruption. The dangers of negative and corrupt phenomena can only be prevented and eliminated in a reliable manner by building a close supervision network and regulating the exercise of power.

The existence of dangers serves as both vigilance and a spur. Given the tests of the reality and the expectations of the people, no matter how leading officials maintain integrity and combat corruption, or how the Party and the country eliminate corruption, the most powerful response to the dangers is just actions and the most effective answer is to satisfy the needs of the people.

[i]By People\’s Daily Online[/i]

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China\’s local governments at the provincial, municipal and county levels had amassed more than 10.7 trillion yuan in debt by the end of last year, according to a report recently released by the National Audit Office. The huge debt has caused great concern among reporters and businesspeople both foreign and domestic about a possible default and the repayment capability of China\’s local government.

Industry insiders believe that China\’s local government debt is still under control and will not create an adverse chain reaction. The central government is increasing regulatory efforts to curb the disorderly growth in local government debt.

[b]China\’s local government debt burden exaggerated [/b]

The National Audit Office\’s report has generated a heated discussion among domestic and overseas media about whether China\’s local government debt is massive and whether it will produce adverse effects on the Chinese economy. Certain international credit rating agencies failed to provide objective and fair ratings. As a result, many foreign investment institutions took the chance to hint at a possible economic downturn in China and started using local government debt as a new tool to make negative predictions about China\’s economy.

Moody\’s, one of the three leading international rating agencies, recently said in a report that China\’s local government debt burden may be 3.5 trillion yuan larger than auditors estimated and warned that the credit outlook for Chinese lenders could turn negative. Shortly afterward, the share prices of major Hong Kong-listed Chinese banks dropped sharply.

Sun Mingchun, chief China economist for Daiwa Securities, said that Moody\’s used inaccurate data and inexact calculations to produce the report on China\’s local government debt. Independent economist Andy Xie believes that there will be more negative reports about the country\’s debt burden from Moody\’s because they serve the interests of both the rating agency itself and international investors.

Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist at China Galaxy Securities, said frankly that certain influential rating agencies have formed a community of interests — if not a conspiracy — with short-sellers and are trying to gain benefits by issuing negative ratings, making negative predications about China\’s economy and exaggerating China\’s local government debt burden. Their purpose is to use the money of the Chinese people to pay off the debt of crisis makers.

[b]Local debt risk controllable [/b]

\”Foreign media indeed have exaggerated China\’s local debt risk,\” Zhou Li, a professor from the School of Economics and Management under Tsinghua University, said during an interview. Zhou also said that although China\’s local debt has currently reached 10.7 trillion yuan and there are some problems in the local borrowing system, this would not influence the solvency and normal operation of local governments.

Guo Tianyong, director of the China Banking Research Center under the Central University of Finance and Economics, said that the primary cause of the rapid expansion of local debt is that the reform of the tax system has caused the asymmetric distribution of administrative and financial powers between local governments. This gradually caused a situation in which administrative powers gathered in hands of governments at the higher level, while financial powers were transferred to governments at the lower level.
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CPC needs to be vigilant against dangers

As the Chinese proverb goes, \”be mindful of possible danger in times of peace.\” A political party\’s vanguard nature and maturity depend on whether it can keep a clear mind and discover hidden problems when surrounded by praise.

2011 marks the glorious 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, and the people are full of praise for its contributions. Being vigilant against dangers, CPC Central Committee General-Secretary Hu Jintao warned all Party members in his July 1 speech that the world, the country, and the Party are undergoing profound changes. The Party is facing complex and severe tests in governing the country, implementing the reform and opening-up policy, developing the market economy and dealing with the external environment. Furthermore, it is also confronted with growing dangers of slacking off mentally, being incompetent, alienating the masses and being dispirited and corrupt.

Both domestic and overseas media have an impression that the Party was mindful of possible danger even on its 90th birthday. As a Marxist party, the Communist Party of China was born amid adversity and has been growing despite adversity. Adversity has become a significant part of its 90-year history.

The Party was born in the times of hardship, when the Chinese nation was at stake. It was deeply aware that the Chinese nation was facing its greatest peril when leading the Chinese people in arduous struggles and stressed the \”two musts\” of guarding against arrogance and rashness and preserving the style of plain living and hard struggle before marching toward Beijing on the eve of the founding of the New China.

It began the reform and opening-up amid the danger of being expelled from the world membership and entered into the new century with the awareness of being prepared against adversities in times of peace. It overcame a series of challenges, such as epidemics, earthquakes and financial crisis, with the awareness of potential dangers and prevention. Fearlessly struggling despite setbacks and marching forward against potential dangers has already become one of the most precious qualities of the Party and will provide the Party with insights as to how forge a future from a new historical scratch.

The Party\’s awareness of being vigilant against dangers is derived from responsibility. The key to properly managing China\’s affairs lies in the Party. The Party members have always exercised the state power for the people, shared the feelings of the people and worked for the interests of the people, and have always been committed to the national rejuvenation and public well-being, during the periods of revolution, construction, reform and development.

An ancient Chinese saying goes, \”Noble gentlemen cannot but be resolute and broad-minded to take up heavy and long-term responsibilities for the country.\” This is just the strong sense of historical responsibility and mission held by the Party. This has enabled the Party to find its problems and shortcoming; check the weakness in its capacities and quality; attach particular importance to the tradition of maintaining close ties with the masses, and be highly alert to the terrible impact of official bribes and corruption.

The awareness of being vigilant against dangers has inspired a driving force. Thanks to the hardship and difficulties overcome by the Party, it has better showed its outstanding political nature, made considerable self-improvement and accelerated the pace of China\’s historical and social course amid vital moments including the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Party Central Committee, the flood relief in 1998 and the \”Wenchuan earthquake miracle.\”

Although China created an amazing miracle of development, it still faces prominent contradictions and facing historical issues as well as the difficult problems of reality. Problems such as housing, education, health care, employment, environment and corruption have become more prominent, and the scientific development cannot overcome systemic obstacles. Finding problems is not the purpose, while the key is to solve problems. How to maintain the energetic and promising state, carry forward the pioneering spirit, muster the courage to deal with difficulties, and continue to seek ways and means to solve problems and conflicts is a test for the Party\’s governance capability.

Adversity spurs vitality while conformity breeds sloth. The \”four tests\” are everywhere and the alarm of the \”four dangers\” keeps ringing. The awareness of being vigilant in peacetime is not the past tense, but the present tense and future tense for the Party.

The pressing situation required Party members and cadres especially leading cadres to take the awareness of being vigilant in peacetime as a kind of ruling mentality. The Party members are required to be more aware of problems to avoid accumulating problems over a long period. They should not be self-satisfied, but rationally treat achievements. They are also required to strengthen the awareness of serving the people to promote the combination of cadres and the people and resist the temptation of fame and fortune to avoid seeking private gain through power.

Only in this way can the Party win the support of the masses, fear no risks, never be confused by any interference and continue to promote the cause of the Party and the people.

[i]By Zhan Yong, editor of People\’s Daily, translated by People\’s Daily Onine[/i]

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China is increasingly becoming the focus of world attention. Some countries see it as a threat, and others have made many negative predictions about China. Despite their different attitudes, they often use the same phrase — \”the rise of China\” — when describing the country.

However, the Chinese nation, which has a long continuous history and a strong sense of national pride, prefers the word \”rejuvenation.\” The most important task of today\’s China is to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The Communist Party of China has made great efforts to lead the Chinese people in achieving this task.

The Party has accomplished three major events in the past 90 years, namely the new-democratic revolution, the socialist revolution and the reform and opening-up policy. CPC Central Committee General-Secretary Hu Jintao said in his speech marking the Party\’s 90th birthday that the three events \”irreversibly started the Chinese nation\’s historic march for development, growth and great rejuvenation.\”

The Party has fully realized its responsibilities by accomplishing the three major events.

\”Success in China hinges on the Party. The Party is facing long-term, complicated and severe tests in governing the country, implementing the reform and opening-up policy, developing the market economy, and dealing with the external environment. Furthermore, it is also confronted with growing dangers of slacking off mentally, being incompetent, alienating the masses and being dispirited and corrupt. It has thus become more important and more urgent than ever before for the Party to police itself and impose strict discipline on its members,\” Hu said.

In the new historical conditions, the Party members again showed their awareness of being vigilant against dangers in times of peace, which guided the Party to walk in the forefront of the times and united and led the Chinese people to win victories one after another in the 90-year history of the Party.

The modern and contemporary history of the Chinese nation can be simply summarized as \”saving the nation from subjugation and ensuring its survival.\” Oppression produced resistance. The gunfire of the great powers brought the smoke of the national liberation movement. The danger of national subjugation and genocide called forth the red flag with a sickle and a hammer.

\”Never forget to be concerned about the fate of the country although being humble.\”–The Communist Party of China was only a small political party with more than 50 members in 1921. What they had was just the awareness of being vigilant against dangers in times of peace. The Party was born in adversity.

The Party was born in the adversity and grew in the adversity. The Chinese people will never forget that the Party and the revolutionary army completed the arduous Long March. The Party members found their most confident power in the extreme difficulties of domestic strife and foreign aggression.

\”The red flag is flying on the top of the Liupan Mountain, and when can we vanquish the evil devil with our armed forces?\” Mao Zedong said in a poem after the Red Army climbed over the Liupan Mountain. The Chinese people will also never forget the speech of Comrade Mao Zedong during the Second Communist Plenary Meeting of the seventh CPC Central Committee in 1949. Comrade Mao required the whole Party to keep sober mind in front of the victory and withstand the test of governance after seized the national regime.

He also required the Party to ensure that its members can continue to remain the modest, careful and not conceited or rash and must ensure that Party members can continue to keep the style of hard work and plain living. The famous \”two musts\” in the history of the Party also revealed the awareness of being vigilant against dangers in times of peace.

\”Being concerned about state affairs ahead of the people\” – the Party already had a total of 4 million members and won the support of the overwhelming majority of people in 1949. The Party, with deep awareness of potential dangers, began the great course of building the New China.

The Party has made tremendous progress in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation over the past 60 years. Despite the changes of the times and the world, the Party has unswervingly held to the principle of serving the people as well as the awareness of potential dangers. The Party with the awareness of potential dangers should properly find, analyze and resolve problems. Coming from the people, being rooted in the people and serving the people is the Party\’s essential approach to overcome tests and avoid risks.

\”The ruler who understands what makes a country in peril can maintain peace, who understands what makes a country disordered can achieve sound governance and who understands what makes a country perish can survive\” – the Party has had a total of more than 80 million members and led the Chinese people in creating enormous wealth, reviving the long-standing China and advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Stressing the awareness of potential dangers at this historical moment has showcased the Party\’s open mind, clear vision and foreseeable actions.

[i]By Yang Kai, editor with People\’s Daily, translated by People\’s Daily Online[/i]

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However, as China\’s existing budget law formulates that local governments are not allowed to issue municipal bonds, the huge funding gap formed by the local construction needs to be solved by local financing platforms. Particularly, after the international financial crisis, the Chinese government invested 4 trillion yuan to launch the economic stimulus plan and the expansionary fiscal policy to promote the rapid development and expansion of local financing platform loans, which is the main part of local debt.

In addition, various places are currently making major efforts to accelerate the affordable housing construction, which will certainly bring new pressure to local financing.

Guo believes although construction of affordable housing will certainly increase local debt, as affordable houses are available to be rented and sold, it can ensure normal cash flow and will not endanger the solvency of local governments. Meanwhile, as the affordable housing construction is a livelihood project, even if there are problems in local debt, the Chinese government will use state revenue as local debt subsidies through financing.

\”The local debt risk is just like the two sides of the coin. Creditors have to face financial and credit risk, while local governments have to face the risk of insolvency,\” Guo said.

Guo also believes although total debt is expanding and the funds of specific projects are lacking, local governments are still capable of paying debt. Therefore, the local debt risk is controllable on the whole.

[b]Central government strengthens supervision on local debts[/b]

In 2011, the central bank adopted a relatively tight monetary policy and is more vigilant about the risks of bank credits and local debts. Meanwhile, it will strengthen the supervision on local debts and make local financing platforms play more effective roles.

Wei Jianing, deputy secretary of the Macroeconomic Research Department under the Development Research Center of the State Council, believes that promoting structural reform and thoroughly clearing up the relations between local and central governments are the fundamental things means of solving the local debt issue. The central government should consider supervising local finance its primary job. And regarding the decision-making mechanism, the central government should also establish a special \”department of local affairs\” which will play the role of \”spokesman for the local government\” and indicate whether the local financial situation could reach the standard set by the central government. Meanwhile, it is also responsible of supervising the public finance and the debt burden of the local government.

\”Fixing the sources and channels of local incomes to a certain extent is the key for solving the local debt issue.\” Professor Zhou said that the fixed incomes should be connected with the future debts so that debts could be paid according to incomes. If the incomes are not fixed and no appointed means of paying debt exist, the cash flow will be risky even if a government is capable of paying its debts. In other words, the future incomes and future debt payments should be matched. If the budgetary incomes are certain, the debt risks will be settled.

Guo also said that settling the risks of local governments\’ financing platforms cannot be accomplished in one stroke, but will need a long and step-by-step process. In addition to guaranteeing the food and clothing of the common people, governmental incomes should also be invested in projects for the people\’s livelihood, such as affordable housing. For the commercial projects with large cash flows and investments that could be recovered soon, local governments should focus on doing the biding job and leave the projects to private capitals. In the future, as long as governments could clearly understand their duties, the local debt issue will be solved easily.

[i]By Zhou Xiaoyuan from People\’s Daily Overseas Edition, translated by People\’s Daily Online[/i]
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China\’s GDP grew nearly 10 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period of last year. Meanwhile, its Consumer Price Index grew more than 5 percent from a year earlier, according to statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics on July 13.

Industry insiders believe that China\’s economic growth slowed slightly because certain macro-regulation policies took effect. Currently, the country\’s economy is shifting from fast growth driven by stimulus policies to self-driven, healthy development.

[b]Fast economic growth due to stimulus policies [/b]

The NBS estimated that China\’s GDP reached more than 20.4 trillion yuan in the first half of 2011, up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier at comparable prices. Specifically speaking, the growth was 9.7 percent in the first quarter and 9.5 percent in the second quarter.

Sheng Laiyun, director of the Department of Comprehensive Statistics and spokesman for the NBS, said that despite declines in certain economic indicators for the first half of the year, the overall economic performance of China was good. The Chinese economy is shifting from fast growth driven by policy to self-driven, healthy development.

Guo Tianyong, a professor at the School of Finance under the Central University of Finance and Economics, said in an interview that after the global financial crisis, China had no choice but to introduce a stimulus plan to support economic recovery. It should be noted that stimulating the economy is not in line with the direction of China\’s economic reform, he said.

The stimulus plan used too much money, making it difficult for the government to curb inflation, Guo said. In order to reduce inflation and accelerate economic restructuring, China should phase out economic stimulus policies, encourage enterprises to conduct innovation to increase the effective supply of products and follow the self-propelled economic development pattern, he said.

[b]China\’s economy cannot always run at an accelerated speed[/b]

The NBS statistics showed that China\’s retail sales of consumer goods witnessed steady growth in the first half of the year, but the growth in the sales of products related to the automotive and real estate industries slowed. Vehicle sales rose 15 percent in the past six months, a growth rate of 22.1 percentage points lower than that of the same period last year. The growth in the sales of furniture was 30 percent, 8.5 percentage points lower than last year. The growth in the sales of household appliances as well as audio and video equipment was nearly 22 percent, 7.3 percentage points lower than last year.

\”Some major economic indices declined in the second quarter of 2011. It was mainly caused by the active readjustments and controls and also a normal reaction after the stimulus policies were withdrawn from the market,\” Sheng said.

Sheng said that after the subsidy policy for automobile sales was cancelled and the automobile-purchasing limitation policy was launched in some cities, the growth rate of the sales volume of the automobiles above the limitation has decreased by more than 20 percent in 2011 compared to the same period of 2010. The readjustments and controls on real estate have also affected the sales of related products, and the sales volumes of furniture, construction materials, decoration materials and others have all had an obvious decline compared to the same period of 2010.

\”It is the normal reaction after the stimulus policies were withdrawn. It is similar to a long-distance runner. A long-distance runner could not always run at his top speed and sometimes must slow down to gather strength for the rest of course.\”

Lian Ping, Chief Economist of the Communication Bank of China, said, \”China\’s economic growth rate decreased smoothly from 9.7 percent in the first quarter to 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2011. The macroscopic readjustments and controls have shown their preliminary effects.\”

But Lian also said that the 9.6 percent GDP growth rate of the first half of 2011 is a little higher than the market expectation. Factors, such as electricity shortages, a weakening purchasing managers’ index and asset price adjustments, had led to market concerns about the second quarter\’s data, but the 9.5 percent GDP growth rate of the second quarter indicates that the economic slow-down is quite smooth.

Guo also believes that the monetary policies, under the dense macroeconomic readjustments and controls, took restraining the inflation as its foothold in the first half of 2011. From the data, it could be seen that the economy has fallen back a little bit. It will alleviate the concerns about a possible hard landing and stagflation of China\’s economy. It is expected that, in the second half of 2011, China will continue its steady monetary polices, price-control mechanisms will have more room to play their role, and interest rates will also be raised once or twice.
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The operation of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway created much excitement in the Chinese media circle. The high-speed railway was constructed based on the principles of \”safety, comfort and environmental protection,\” and was constructed with world-class engineering. All Chinese people look forward to takinh this high-speed railway. It will now only take people four to five hours to travel from Beijing to Shanghai by train. This wonderful feeling quickly spawned a number of high-speed railway fans, and high-speed railways have become a hot spot.

We have reasons to be proud. China gave priority to the development of high-speed railways as a strategic and emerging industry after the global financial crisis and gave strong support in aspects such as financial investment, construction land, technology innovation and business environment. China has become the world\’s fastest growing country in high-speed railways, and Westerners even said, \”China really leads the world in high-speed railways.\”

However, there have been some problems with the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway since it was officially opened on June. 30.

On the afternoon of July 10, 19 trains to Shanghai on the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway were overdue, leaving passengers in de-energized sweltering carriages very anxious, because of thunderstorms and strong winds within Shandong Province. Two days later, power failure delayed some trains on the Suzhou section of the line at noon of July 12. This has led people to be somewhat uneasy and dissatisfied with high-speed train travel.

Ticket service is also disturbing. Although passengers have just enjoyed the convenience of buying paperless high-speed train tickets online and boarding trains by swiping ID cards, some of them have been inconvenienced after they changed their travel schedules: it is easy for them to buy tickets but is difficult to get a refund for their tickets. Ticket service operators charge a refund fee equivalent to 20 percent of the ticket value even if ticket holders return the tickets several days ahead of the departure date. Ticket holders who bought tickets online or through automatic vending machines are not entitled to any refund unless they go to the railway stations and present their ID and bank cards.

This has shown that although China\’s high-speed railway operators maintain the world\’s highest operating speed of high-speed railway trains, they are far from being good enough and should review themselves: whether or not emergency response plans are put in place in case of abnormal weather? Whether sufficient technical facilities are available in emergency situations? How to comfort passengers and share the losses in case of power failure and train delays? Whether ticket service can be improved to better meet the needs of passengers? Whether the procedures of high-speed railway operations are scrupulous? Whether the rights of the large number of passengers who cannot afford expensive high-speed train ticket prices can be respected?

The speed of trains can be increased relatively quickly, but it will be difficult for the service awareness, guarantee level and management system to immediately keep pace. China\’s railway sector remains highly centralized. Although the centralization has helped improve decision-making efficiency and made it possible to concentrate resources on major tasks, it has made railway authorities develop the habit of ignoring passengers\’ needs and interests, which does not suit the market economy. Chinese railway passengers have been at a weak position for a long time.

In fact, no matter whether they are cheering or complaining, the people\’s great attention to high-speed railways is the most valuable social resource for the railway sector and can add momentum to railway reform. The massive investments in high-speed railways come from the people, so railway authorities should make greater efforts to develop the high-speed railway into a really safe, comfortable, and convenient way to travel.

China is leading the world in high-speed railway construction, but more attention should be paid to the needs and interests of passengers to ensure fast and comfortable travel.

[i]By Li Hongbing from People\’s Daily and the article is translated by People\’s Daily Online.[/i]

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As tensions between China and Vietnam have recently escalated, certain pessimists are ruling out the possibility of the two countries resolving the South China Sea dispute through bilateral cooperation.

In fact, despite the long-running dispute over the South China Sea and its resources, China and Vietnam have managed to maintain friendly relations with each other and are becoming increasingly interdependent, especially in the areas of trade and investments.

The reporter recently conducted a survey in Hekou Port, and found that the thriving border trade between China and Vietnam was not affected by the recent tensions. This shows that pursuing win-win economic cooperation remains the mainstay of China-Vietnam relations, and it is in the best interests of the two countries to shelve the dispute and jointly develop resources in the South China Sea.

The aforementioned view is based on the fact that although the South China Sea issue is significant to the development of the China-Vietnam relations, it is not the whole story of the bilateral ties. In fact, the China-Vietnam relations have experienced many fluctuations since the founding of New China. However, the two countries and their ruling parties have maintained close cooperation since the end of the Cold War with frequent exchanges among the leaders of the two states, and the comprehensive cooperation between the two sides under the \”Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Cooperation\” has also been progressing smoothly.

The long-term South China Sea issue has yet to hamper the rapid development of the China-Vietnam relations. The main reasons behind the continued escalation of the South China Sea issue, which has been rooted in the history over recent years, lie in the effects of factors within and beyond the region.

First, although China\’s rapid economic rise means development opportunities to its neighboring countries, the rapid bilateral trade growth has come with Vietnam\’s continued trade deficit with China, which exceeded 14 billion U.S. dollars in 2010. As an export-oriented country, Vietnam is evidently aware that it has suffered losses in its cooperation with China, which has affected the Vietnamese people\’s perception of China to some extent and caused them to go to the extreme when it comes to the South China Sea issue.

Second, the rise in China\’s strength has also made Vietnam relatively reluctant to set aside the dispute and seek joint development because the expanding gap in the two countries\’ strength brought about by China\’s development does not favor Vietnam\’s claim of sovereignty over the disputed areas. Certainly, forces beyond the region have made the situation in the South China Sea more complicated, particularly after the high-profile intervention made by the United States

However, this does not change the international relations rule of benefiting from cooperation and losing from conflicts between China and Vietnam. Therefore, both sides will treat the dispute in the South China Sea with a restrained attitude. Vietnam currently focuses more on the economic interests in the South China Sea because it needs to consume more energy to develop the manufacturing industry on a large scale.

As international oil prices remain high, the rich oil and gas resources of the South China Sea have great attraction both for domestic demand supply or appropriate export. However, by taking tough unilateral action to destroy relations with its important economic partner, China may get more kicks than half penny. This is perhaps the main reason why Vietnam recently sent an envoy to visit China.

How to take effective measures to shelve disputes and achieve common development and win-win solutions is a more pressing issue for both sides because keeping economic development and improving the people\’s living standards will still be the primary task of China and Vietnam in a period of time. Comrade Deng Xiaoping had stressed that sovereignty disputes can be left to later generations to solve. Of course, the two sides should first unswervingly implement the principle of shelving certain disputes to benefit from the common development, and leaders of both countries need certain political courage to achieve this goal under the current international background.

[i]By Wang Yuzhu, an expert on ASEAN from the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, translated by People\’s Daily Online[/i]

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A new country named South Sudan was born on the banks of the Nile River on July 9. Festive gun salutes echoed over the skies of Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The people of South Sudan held a grand ceremony to celebrate the founding of their country, and the national flag rose slowly during the national anthem \”God Bless South Sudan.\”

The international community fully respects the people of South Sudan\’s common aspiration and their choice of independence. All nations hope that the independence of South Sudan will be the end of conflict and suffering, and the beginning of stability and development. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, government leaders and ambassadors of several countries and representatives of international organizations attended the ceremony.

South Sudan\’s national flag symbolizes the hopes and eager anticipation of South Sudanese toward sovereign independence. Red represents the blood of victims, green represents the lush jungle and black represents the color of citizens\’ skin. The white between the tree colors represents the desire for peace and the golden star on the blue triangle represents moving forward.

The formal independence of South Sudan marks a milestone in the peace process in the region. In accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 that put an end to the 22-year Sudanese civil war, southern Sudan held a referendum on Jan. 9, 2011, and the overwhelming majority of southerners voted to secede from Sudan.

As an independent sovereign nation, South Sudan covers an area of more than 600,000 square kilometers and has a population of nearly 8.3 million. It is rich in oil and enjoys great potential in agriculture, forestry, fishery and animal husbandry.

However, due to the lengthy civil war, South Sudan is now one of the least developed countries in Africa, with backward infrastructure, poor medical care, inadequate supplies of water and electricity, as well as a low educational level.

According to statistics from the Untied Nations, up to 90 percent of South Sudan\’s population lives below the international poverty line, and the illiteracy rate of the country stands above 85 percent. Given its weak economic foundation and unsound political structure, the top priority for South Sudan is to quickly develop its economy and improve the people\’s lives.

The Sudan People\’s Liberation Movement, led by the Dinka people, the largest ethnic group in South Sudan, played a significant role in pursuing independence for South Sudan and, unsurprisingly, became the ruling party of the country.

There are more than 200 tribes living in 10 states under the jurisdiction of South Sudan. They are often drawn into disputes about religious beliefs, livestock, water sources and other matters. Furthermore, certain political forces are showing discontent with the Dinka people, who dominate the government of South Sudan, and they are seeking a greater say in state affairs. Achieving ethnic unity and national stability as soon as possible is another major challenge facing South Sudan.

In terms of foreign diplomacy, the relations between South Sudan and Sudan are of vital significance. The border between South Sudan and Sudan is as long as 2,000 kilometers. After the independence of South Sudan, its close links with Sudan are indivisible because of historical and realistic factors.

It was noteworthy that Omar al-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan, not only attended South Sudan\’s independence ceremony and delivered a speech but also released an executive order on July 8 taking the lead among countries in acknowledging South Sudan as an \”independent and sovereign state\” on July 9.

According to the executive order, Sudan\’s government hopes that South Sudan will become a stable and safe country and expects to establish outstanding special ties with South Sudan under the principle of cooperation, respect and good-neighborliness. The statement is of positive significance in developing the ties between the two countries.

Currently, Sudan and South Sudan still need to resolve key issues, such as border demarcation, oil revenue distribution, the claim of sovereignty over disputed Abyei area and the sharing of foreign debt. Both sides can only keep the issues from becoming \”time bombs\” that will lead to clashes again by prioritizing peace, showing mutual understanding and accommodation, handling disagreements in a calm and restrained manner, and persisting in resolving the issues through negotiations and consultations.

Despite such difficulties, people can reasonably believe that the Republic of South Sudan has declared independence amid a peaceful and jubilant atmosphere, and its people will surely be able to continuously accomplish new achievements in the path of national construction and development.

[i]By Yue Lushi from People\’s Daily and the article is translated by People\’s Daily Online.[/i]

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