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Abandoning GDP fixation

12-29-2011 10:49 BJT

The economic work conference transmitted a significant and unambiguous message that focus will be real economy

Many market observers have said the just-concluded Central Economic Work Conference of the Chinese government placed particular importance on "sound" or "steady" macroeconomic, fiscal and monetary policies in the year ahead.

However, to my mind, the annual top economic conference also transmitted an unambiguous message to the outside world that the country is poised to make some significant economic policy changes.

To promote these policy changes, China will first abandon GDP-dominated performance as the guideline for its economic development. As early as October 2007, in his report delivered to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Hu Jintao vowed to reduce the country's dependence on GDP, saying economic development should aim to improve people's livelihoods and welfare rather than purely push for GDP growth.

However, the country's efforts in this regard were interrupted by the economic stimulus packages it launched amid concerns over an economic slowdown, following the financial crisis in the United States in the latter half of 2008 and the following global economic recession. The side effects of the policy interruption are expected to unfold and to be mended in the years ahead.

Fortunately, the Chinese government did not cling to the GDP-preoccupied economic development approach this time, even though the country still faces the risk of an economic downturn in the context of global economic uncertainties. Despite being encircled by a treacherous external economic environment, the country has shown more determination than ever to shy away from any enormous economic stimulus packages in an endeavor to decelerate its fast pace of GDP growth, as indicated by the circular issued after this year's Central Economic Work Conference. Such a departure from the GDP preoccupation has also been reflected in some open remarks made by the country's top leaders.


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