China to tackle problem of rural, urban divide
China will workout a detailed blueprint next week, to tackle one of the biggest threats to its economic boom: how to lessen the yawning gap between rural and urban incomes.india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 16:58 IST
China will workout a detailed blueprint next week, to tackle one of the biggest threats to its economic boom: how to calm growing unrest in the countryside, spawned by a yawning gap between rural and urban incomes.
Building a "new socialist countryside" is the central plank of China's five-year economic programme for 2006 to 2010, that will be rubber-stamped by the annual meeting of its parliament, the National People's Congress, which starts tomorrow.
Rural rumblings might seem irrelevant to foreign investors pouring 1 billion dollars a week into a country, that has put men in space and exports more high-tech goods than the United States.
But 750 million to 950 million of the 1.3 billion population live in the countryside. More than 64 million of them have annual net incomes of less than 945 yuan. And they are unhappy.
Abuses of land rights and disputes over land are probably the main reason why the number of protests and demonstrations has been rising. It's a real source of unhappiness in a lot of rural areas.
Alongside rural development, other economic issues on the agenda include energy conservation and efforts to beef up China's capital markets and banking system, for example by carving out a new bank from within the country's postal system.
But academics expect three long-debated economic laws -- to strengthen property rights, to modernise bankruptcy procedures and to equalise tax rates paid by foreign and domestic firms -- will remain on the drawing board.