Beijing's blueprint for future aims high

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 February, 2007, 12:00am

Five-decade development plan plots paths for all facets of national growth

Beijing yesterday released a large-scale blueprint for the country's sustainable development over the next five decades, setting high goals for nearly every aspect of national growth.

'China aims to enter the world's top 10 countries in terms of comprehensive national power by 2050,' according to the plan drawn up over 32 months by the country's leading research institute, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xinhua reported.

The ambitious Blueprint for China's Sustainable Development comprises 20 books covering a wide range of topics, including population, natural resources, the environment, economics, society, science and technology, poverty, culture and education, Xinhua said.

Most noticeably, the blueprint predicts the world's most populous country will have eradicated poverty by 2050.

According to previous official reports, by the end of 2005, the rural population living in absolute poverty had been reduced to 23.7 million. However, non-governmental organisations have estimated that more than 80 million mainlanders still live below the government's poverty line of less than 668 yuan a year.

The development plan also vows to lower the country's Gini coefficient - a measure of inequality in income distribution - to between 0.35 and 0.40 by 2050. The country's current Gini index stands at 0.496, up 2.6 percentage points from the year before, according to an official yearbook released in December. A coefficient higher than 0.4 is considered a warning sign of social unrest.

Responding to mounting concern over the country's insatiable appetite for energy and the adverse environmental impact brought about by high energy consumption, the plan promises to increase energy efficiency - or the economic rate of return on its consumption of energy. By 2050, the number of economic units of gross domestic product produced by each unit of energy would grow 15 to 20-fold, it said.

This target is largely in line with the goal set in the 11th Five-Year Programme (2006-10) to reduce the amount of energy used per unit of GDP by 20 per cent, equivalent to a 4 per cent reduction each year.

Despite that target, the mainland saw an increase in energy consumption per unit of GDP of 0.8 per cent in the first half of last year and emissions of major pollutants have continued to rise, according to figures from the National Development and Reform Commission.

Regarding quality of life, the blueprint promises to boost its human development index - a means of measuring national well-being by taking into account factors such as life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living - to above 0.900, which is the rating for a highly developed country.

However, this appears to be a tough task given that the country scored 0.768 - coming 81st of 177 countries tracked by the index - in the United Nations' 2006 Human Development Report.