Re­de­fine growth tar­gets

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - ED­I­TO­RIAL

WITH THE RE­LEASE OF A NEW EVAL­U­A­TION sys­tem that no longer pri­or­i­tizes the growth-at-all-costs eco­nomic model, Chi­nese lead­ers are mak­ing the on­go­ing an­nual Cen­tral Eco­nomic Work Con­fer­ence the launch pad for cru­cial re­forms that are es­sen­tial for sus­tain­able growth.

It is hoped that lo­cal of­fi­cials will en­thu­si­as­ti­cally in­cor­po­rate greater so­cial in­clu­sion and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity into their eco­nomic de­ci­sion-mak­ing to ful­fill the coun­try’s new eco­nomic plans for 2014.

As the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy, the sta­bil­ity and growth mo­men­tum of the Chi­nese econ­omy also means a lot to the health of the global econ­omy.

The fact that China reg­is­tered its big­gest trade sur­plus in al­most five years in Novem­ber, while its cur­rency rose to a new record high against the US dol­lar on Tues­day, should largely put to rest any wor­ries that its econ­omy was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a harsh slow­down. Mean­while, China’s be­nign in­fla­tion of 3 per­cent last month also jus­ti­fies no im­mi­nent mone­tary tight­en­ing to avoid run­away price hikes.

The over­all sound per­for­mance of the Chi­nese econ­omy so far this year should add to both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional con­fi­dence in the eco­nomic plans that the coun­try’s lead­ers will come up with at their on­go­ing con­fer­ence in Bei­jing.

But it may also be used as an ex­cuse by some lo­cal of­fi­cials want­ing to drag their feet over im­ple­ment­ing the painful but nec­es­sary re­forms needed to up­grade lo­cal growth pat­terns. Their ob­ses­sion with the speed of eco­nomic growth has, to a cer­tain ex­tent, served as a driv­ing force be­hind the fierce com­pe­ti­tion among lo­cal economies that was deemed cen­tral to China’s dou­ble-digit growth over the past three decades. But the coun­try can no longer af­ford to sac­ri­fice the en­vi­ron­ment and im­prove­ments in peo­ple’s liveli­hoods for fast eco­nomic ex­pan­sion.

By un­veil­ing an am­bi­tious agenda to com­pre­hen­sively deepen re­forms at the Third Plenum of the 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, the coun­try’s lead­ers have al­ready high­lighted the ne­ces­sity, as well as their de­ter­mi­na­tion, to shift the coun­try’s growth model to­ward greater sus­tain­abil­ity.

It is ex­pected that the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties will make the an­nual cen­tral eco­nomic work meet­ing the op­por­tu­nity to roll out de­tailed ac­tion plans for struc­tural re­forms.

The guide­line is­sued on Mon­day on as­sess­ing the per­for­mance of lo­cal of­fi­cials will help drive home the mes­sage that growth tar­gets will be more about sus­tain­abil­ity than speed only from now on.

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