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Redefine growth targets

Updated: 2013-12-11 00:09
( China Daily)

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.