By Peter Ford of the Christian Science Monitor:
As policemen fan out through cities across China to snuff out the slightest sign of North African-style protests, the country¡¯s political leaders are pledging to tackle the economic problems that might spark popular discontent.
At this week¡¯s annual National People¡¯s Congress (NPC), China¡¯s parliament, speakers from Premier Wen Jiabao on down have been stressing issues such as skyrocketing house prices, worrying inflation, and workers¡¯ wages even above the once-sacred economic growth rate.
While it has so far been ¡°absolutely necessary to make maintaining growth a priority ¡ now we want to put more emphasis on ensuring and improving people¡¯s livelihood,¡± the country¡¯s top economic planner, Zhang Ping, told reporters last weekend.
This might be easier said than done, some independent economists are warning. ¡°These changes will require a fundamental shift away from China¡¯s current growth model,¡± says Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University.
Behind the shift in emphasis is a desire to ensure social stability, explains Zhao Xiyun, Deputy Director of the School of Finance at People¡¯s University in Beijing. ¡°That is the single most important thing for the government and the [ruling Communist] party,¡± he says.
Read full article at the Christian Science Monitor.