A year of deepening reform
Updated: 2014-03-06 07:56
There are some who may have raised their eyebrows at China's growth target of around 7.5 percent for 2014.
Certainly after more than three decades of double-digit growth, people can hardly get very excited about such a seemingly mediocre pace of expansion.
Even in 2013 when the country registered its slowest growth in more than a decade, the Chinese economy still expanded by 7.7 percent.
However, a closer examination of China's official economic and social targets for this year, announced by Premier Li Keqiang in his first government work report at the annual session of the National People's Congress, suggests that the GDP growth goal of around 7.5-percent is actually more inspiring than it appears.
As the world second-largest economy, high single-digit growth in itself can adequately make China one of the key driving forces behind the global recovery. And recent uncertainties in international relations as well as the global financial markets only make China's stable growth more needed than ever.
Yet what makes this year's growth target particularly encouraging is Chinese policymakers have made reform the top priority for the government's work this year.
By pledging to enact reforms in areas such as finance, agriculture, urbanization, healthcare, education and environmental protection, the latest government report has fully demonstrated the Chinese authorities' resolve to translate into reality the comprehensive reform agenda they had came up with last November.
Some necessary reforms will be painful enough to add to downward pressure on the Chinese economy. But keeping the growth target unchanged from last year signals the government's confidence it can maintain stable growth momentum while carrying out the promised reforms.
If so, the great benefits the first reforms bring about will encourage the country to further deepen reforms to seek long-term growth.
Also the around 7.5-percent growth target for 2014 is even more desirable than the previous breakneck expansion because the government has vowed to make it growth cleaner, more energy efficient and sustainable.
It is far from clear if the efforts that the country has made so far will be enough to deal with the severe environmental problems that have accrued after three decades of rapid industrialization.
But if a slower growth target is an inevitable price, let us pay it now to shift the country toward balanced and clean economic growth via sweeping reforms.