Friday, March 05, 2010

Chinese premier pledges to ease income gap

The Chinese premier made his yearly major policy speech yesterday, and made a pledge to shrink China's income inequality. The speech is similar in stature to the U.S. State of the Union or Brittan's Queen speech.

Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to shrink the income gap by spending more on welfare and developing rural areas. The proposed increases in those two areas are at higher percentages than that proposed for China's military.

From The Guardian, writer Tania Branigan has this description of Jiabao's speech.

His annual policy speech set a steady course for the country – with a growth target of 8%, as in previous years – but left the government room for flexibility as he cautioned that the global economic outlook remained uncertain.

China is reining back spending after last year's massive stimulus package, while seeking to maintain confidence at home and abroad. The 11.4% increase will take total spending to 8.45tn yuan (£800bn), but is less than half of last year's 24% rise.

The country is on course to overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy, after double-digit growth in the final quarter of last year took growth in 2009 to 8.7%, the highest of any major economy.

But addressing the National People's Congress (NPC), China's rubber-stamp parliament, Wen warned: "We must not interpret the economic turnaround as a fundamental improvement in the economic situation.

"There are insufficient internal drivers of economic growth."

Making the case for increased social spending, as he has done in recent years, he added: "We can ensure that there is sustained impetus for economic development, a solid foundation for social progress, and lasting stability for the country only by working hard to ensure and improve people's well-being."

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