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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
Quality outweighs speed in economic growth
    2018-January-22  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Wu Guangqiang

jw368@163.com

IN August 2010, I wrote an article entitled “GDP needs a closer look” for the Shenzhen Daily, in which I said, “Personally, I seriously doubt that GDP makes any sense.” While I admitted that I couldn’t figure out a new measurement for gauging our economic achievement, which is definitely needed, I believed that there must be some universally accepted criteria.

Now China has come up with a solution. Some acute observers had already noticed some changes in China’s evaluation system for economic growth. When President Xi Jinping unveiled the roadmap for the country’s economy through 2050 at the 19th CPC National Congress in October, he did not mention a long-term target of domestic gross product (GDP) growth beyond 2020, an unprecedented move.

At the annual Central Economic Work Conference concluded on Dec. 20, for the first time, Xi’s ideas about economic development were crystallized as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” and will serve as a guideline for China’s economic development for a long time to come.

According to an official statement, Xi’s thought is mainly based on a new development philosophy, which was put forward by Xi in 2015 and features innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.

China’s economy has transitioned from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development, said a statement released after the conference.

The shift doesn’t mean the total omission of GDP targets, yet it does signal a profound change in China’s perception of economic growth.

When China was still in dire poverty and sheer backwardness, the speed of economic growth was made top priority so that the population of over 1 billion could be fed, clothed, sheltered and educated. Touting advanced ideology was out of place at that time.

Undoubtedly, without dozens of years of rapid growth rates, China would still be struggling with material deprivation, and the environment wouldn’t be better either. Looking at developing countries like India and Bangladesh, we understand the importance of fast growth rates to a backward country.

However, when a country becomes a middle-income country, the speed-first approach must give way to the quality-first approach, otherwise the nation may become bogged down with overcapacity, environmental catastrophe, imbalance of economic structures, etc.

Over the years, risks have been mounting with hot money pouring from manufacturing into real estate, and speculative financing and overseas markets, and overleveraged sectors are multiplying. China is at a critical juncture.

So the priority of the quality-first approach is deleveraging and destocking, thus eliminating the rising risks. The supply-side reform in full swing is aimed at generating sustainable, quality growth through tax cuts, entrepreneurship and innovation rather than heavily relying on investment, consumption and export as characteristics of the demand-side economics.

For ordinary people, quality-oriented growth means that they can get whatever goods and services they need at affordable costs.

The fact that millions of Chinese consumers are flocking overseas to purchase toilet seats, infant formula and other hot items is a reflection of the huge demand for quality products, which are still in short supply in China.

With the improvement of people’s living standards, people’s needs are getting increasingly diversified and personalized, hence creating a huge market for tailored and specialized products and services.

Many companies have moved to hop on the bandwagon. The Red Collar company in Qingdao, Shandong Province makes suits and dresses on assembly lines, but every single product comes out in a different design, color, size and style! Their production methods are highly intelligent and automatic.

Similar things are happening in factories of Haier, one of China’s major appliance makers.

For Yang Yuanfan, Party chief of Nanying Village in Hebei Province, quality life means a bulging wallet, a nice house, good neighbors and talented people who are willing to stay in the village.

For Xu Hua, a retired woman in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, a quality life means living away from smog, drinking clean water and eating healthy food and enjoying a happy retired life.

There may be a thousand images of what “quality life” means in the minds of different people, but the bottom line is that the ever-growing demands of the people for a better life are satisfied.

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

 

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn