Social Issues

Province faces hard times in 2012, boss says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 January, 2012, 12:00am

Guangdong party boss Wang Yang has warned of a tough year ahead and lamented a lack of results in the province's joint development with Hong Kong of overseas markets.

Yang said at a meeting of the provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Wednesday in Guangzhou that the next 12 months could be the province's most difficult since the central government enacted economic reforms three decades ago, the China News Service reported.

Guangdong, he said, sat 'on the edge of economic difficulty, social conflicts and even political risks'.

'Giving the economic status of the world's economic powerhouses, [we believe] the international economic crisis is still in progress,' the party secretary said. 'Also, China's domestic funding isn't abundant and financial support from the central government won't be as strong as in 2008. Guangdong is now facing a series of new problems brought by economic and social transformation.'

He also told provincial CPPCC members that progress in co-operative efforts with Hong Kong to expand the region's international trade had so far been limited.

'Guangdong is very willing to jointly develop the international market with Hong Kong, and we have been working on that,' Wang was quoted as telling one member, Tai Tak-fung, the chairman of Hong Kong-based food manufacturer Four Seas. 'But the achievement so far is not significant enough.'

Wang said the province would take along Hong Kong business leaders who invest in the province when it goes on overseas trade tours.

Wang said Guangdong should be the engine of the Chinese people's resurgence, rather than a lit fuse of social conflict. The manufacturing region has been beset by protests in recent months, including a high-profile uprising by villagers in Wukan angry over confiscated farmland.

Demonstrators came out against a proposed power plant in Haimen and numerous strike have erupted across the province over unscrupulous bosses, back-pay disputes and workers' rights.

In June more than 1,000 people protested in Zengcheng after a pregnant woman was allegedly manhandled by police and her husband was beaten to death. Another huge riot was triggered in Chaozhou after a migrant worker from Sichuan was refused back pay.

Sociologist Liu Kaiming, from Shenzhen's Institute of Contemporary Observation, warned that public discontent would rise as the economy faltered and urged the authorities to pay attention to people's demands.

Professor Lin Jiang, an economist at Sun Yat-Sen University, said it would be crucial for Guangdong to lay a foundation for future economic growth this year.

'The key for Guangdong's growth is domestic demand,' Lin said, adding that the province was vulnerable to slumps in Europe and the United States. 'There'll be much uncertainty for Guangdong's future economy if the industrial transformation fails.'