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Sober minds needed to map out the future
(China Daily) Updated:2006-02-09 09:32

  The spotlight is on an inspiring annual report on China's modernization issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.

  However, the stir the report creates will unlikely last long unless its grandiose suppositions can be proved by facts.

  For now, the report is raising eyebrows because of the promises it puts forth.

  It predicts that by 2050, the country's minimum monthly personal income will be equal to more than US$1,300 at 2002 prices.

  That, at least, means income will increase by more than 10 times for city dwellers and 30 times for rural residents respectively in less than 50 years.

  Though an annual income of about US$15,000 is nothing remarkable in an industrialized country even today, it will be a tremendously huge stride for China, given its world largest population and low starting wages.

  By projecting such an affluent society in the long term, this modernization report has well-catered to the nation's desire to continue its growth momentum and achieve greater prosperity.

  After more than two decades of rapid economic growth, the country successfully accomplished its initial modernization goal of quadrupling its GDP (gross domestic product) from that of 1980 by the end of last century.

  Consequently, the overall living standards of the masses have substantially improved. But meanwhile, a widening income gap has emerged, causing so many social problems that the country can not afford to shy away.

  The new modernization report has depicted a future in which the national economy will grow so much that the income disparity will hardly matter.

  The implication of stressing a triple-digit income growth for every worker, if that is what the minimum monthly income means, is there will be enough money for everyone.

  Tantalizing as it is, nevertheless, the report has conspicuously failed to come up with detailed measures to bridge the gap between reality and promise.

  This is not to say the report fails to grasp China's challenges. The report identifies the two critical social transformations the country has to undergo. China will develop from a rural country to an industrial one and then to a knowledge-based society in 50 years.

  Also, by expanding its focus from economic modernization to social modernization, the report demonstrates a deeper understanding of the meaning of modernization in a country that is trying hard to build a harmonious society.

  But the recognition of tasks does not justify jumping to conclusions, especially when such judgments are supposed to help map our future.

  An author explained to the press that the report was not a roadmap, but rather a "canal map" for the country's development. In other words, the goal is clarified, and the path and means to achieve it would be changing and fluid, just as water flows.

  An interesting argument, but it does not answer to the doubt cast on the report's assumption that China will maintain its average 9 per cent growth rate.

  Optimism is needed to encourage the nation to pull together. But an overly optimistic forecast neither guarantees desirable results nor helps fix current problems.

  To provide a meaningful and convincing guide for the country's future development, we must display prudence in both reckoning the challenges and seeking the solutions.





















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