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Consensus over deepening reform grows in China

02-29-2012 08:10 BJT

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- While waning overseas demand continues to plague many already struggling Chinese export companies, Sichuan Sonfor Lighting, an LED lighting product provider, is seeing orders pour in.

The orders are largely from Europe and the United States, and the "secret weapon" for the company to enter these alluring, but difficult markets is its cutting-edge lighting products which are made from rare earths.

Zhang Ming, the company's chairman, said energy-efficient rare-earth lighting products are widely believed to be the mainstream lighting products of the future.

With that in mind, the company raced to develop rare-earth lighting products, a move that helped it prosper while many of its competitors that stuck with traditional lighting products have gone broke, Zhang said, adding that its overseas sales are expected to top 100 million yuan (15.8 million U.S. dollars) this year, from over 30 million yuan last year.

"Against the sluggish recovery of the global economy, a dead end surely awaits companies that fail to reform and innovate. As with a company, a country will find itself at an impasse if no reforms are made to its governance," said the entrepreneur.


In fact, Zhang's analogy is telling about the mood of many Chinese.Since the 30-plus years of reform and opening-up that have propelled China onto a fast development track, most Chinese have seen their living standards vastly improved, but problems like a widening wealth gap and corruption have arisen, as well.

The way out, many Chinese seem to believe, is to further the reform.

"The masses are the most supportive of the reform. I have been a village Party secretary for 20 years and am with the farmers every day. I know them well," said Yang Cuifang, party secretary of Fenshui village in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

"They are now exempt from rural taxes, which burdened Chinese farmers for hundreds of years until they were abolished in 2006. And they have medical insurance and pensions," she said. "All of these are the results of the reforms."

Meanwhile, reform is also crucial for large state-owned enterprises. Pan Xiangyu, vice-chairman of the state-owned Chongqing Iron & Steel, said reform is essential for China's ability to resolve its internal problems and to further liberate productivity.

Reforms have been sustaining Chongqing Iron & Steel for 120 years, which was founded as a pioneer of China's modern steel industry. In the 1980s, the company was among the first Chinese steelmakers to break the state monopoly of steel purchases and sales, as well as the first to independently raise funds to finance research and development.

In the last 10 years, the company restructured itself, shutting down divisions mired in debt and acquiring smaller, local steelmakers -- all while China has made sweeping reforms meant to break up and privatize state-owned enterprises.

"These reforms have been greatly beneficial to us, but are not enough now. The dividends from these reforms are beginning to dwindle," Pan said. "Right now, the most important reform is to make the company a real market entity that runs solely on market rules."

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