martes, 13 de abril de 2010

Un articulo mio en China Daily

Five tough challenges for China

By Carlos Aquino (China Daily)

Updated: 2010-03-16 07:54 Comments(2) PrintMail Large Medium Small

This year's sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has come during an important moment of China's history.

China has not only weathered the global economic crisis, but also achieved an impressive 8.7 percent GDP growth last year while most other countries were still in recession or barely recorded positive growth. It is likely to become the world's second largest economy, overtaking Japan. These developments testify to the rapid advance China has made since launching the reform and opening up.

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The NPC as China's top legislature and the CPPCC as its top political advisory body have a decisive role to play in maintaining continuous economic growth and building a harmonious society. The deputies to the NPC and members of the CPPCC have discussed many issues and how to resolve them, but there are some other challenges that they have to meet.

First, to achieve a balanced economic growth, one in which everybody enjoys the benefits, China should strengthen the economic foundations of its inland regions. China's economic reform began with the development of its coastal areas. As a result, they are now more developed and their residents earn nearly three times as much as those living in inland regions. The living standard of inland residents can be raised by improving such regions' infrastructure, housing, education and healthcare. This would help create a more stable social condition, too.

Second, the government has to strike a balance between economic growth and the environment. As a major player in the world economy, China has the responsibility to protect the environment. Finding a way that would ensure environmental protection not harming its economic development. It may be a delicate process, but China is capable of doing it. It could start by increasing the use of clean energy and energy saving technologies.

Third, to establish a harmonious trade relationship with other countries, China has to take some long term measures. China has a credit trade balance with most countries, especially the United States. This credit balance is at the root of most of the trade frictions. To rule out frequent trade fictions, China may have to strengthen the yuan in the long run. This could benefit the Chinese people, too, because it would help raise their standard of living by making foreign goods and assets cheaper.

Fourth, the one-child family planning policy has been blamed for creating gender imbalance in society. It's high time the government reviewed the policy, especially because an increase in people's - particularly women's - standard of living and education levels has reduced their desire to have a large family. The one-child policy has prompted most families to opt for boys, a practice that can be corrected if families can have a second child.

Fifth, the government has to encourage more people to participate in the democratic process. And the best way of doing that is to raise people's living standard and spread education, for that will generate greater interest among them to participate in politics. This, however, is a gradual process.

The NPC and CPPCC annual sessions have important decisions to make on a wide range of subjects, which includes deciding on the next line of national leaders. A stable transition to a new generation of leaders has contributed to the country's successful economic development, and the practice will continue.

China's rise as an economic power should be seen as a natural phenomenon, for it comprises more than one-fifth of the world population, is an ancient civilization and till the 1500s (along with India) accounted for 75 percent of the world GDP.

Apart from providing inexpensive goods to people across the world, China has also helped create a more balanced international power structure, which till recently had been dominated by a sole superpower, the US. And if it could meet the five challenges discussed above, it would emerge as a bigger and more responsible player on the global stage.

The author is a professor of international economies at San Marcos National University in Lima, Peru.

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