By Editorial Staff
Published: 2008-03-03
Cover, issue no. 357, Mar. 3rd 2008
Original article: [Chinese]

Compared to the previous years, this year's two legislative sessions are of key importance to China's modernization. For one, this is the first year in which policy set by China's communist party's 17th national congress will be implemented. For another, a new administration will take the reigns, a significant political event that will have a profound impact on the country's economy and society in the following five years and beyond.

Yet there is more to suggest the weight of 2008. On the first day of the year, People's Daily, the government's official media organ, published a New Year address titled Celebrating the Great 2008, saying some years are destined to be recorded in the country's history in view of great events taking place. It is rare for the People's Daily to describe a year as great, and the two conventions in the beginning of the year are adding to its significance.

The Economic Observer made its own prediction in the 2005's year-end special "The Year 2008". It said that 2008 would be a key point in Chinese history, when a series of great occasions would take place, including the election of a new government, the Beijing Olympics, the election in Taiwan, and reform of the political system in Hong Kong. The report pointed out that while great opportunities were coming, problems invisible in the past were emerging. As we tried to serve as a telescope to observe the future, we also voiced our concern. It was as if we were going to drive forward on a broad street, and ahead of us would be a bridge full of obstacles. If not properly handled, these obstacles would hurt us, or even make us fall from the bridge. If we passed safely, the road ahead would be broader and smoother.

Looking back, the EO's year-end special on 2008 was more excited anticipation than prophecy. Those anticipations have, over the years, gradually turned into something tangible, and meanwhile, the world is following the changes we are experiencing with great interest. In 2008, social fairness and justice will be certainly be better guaranteed, and democratic political institutions will be strengthened. This is because the central government's development and governing principles have become clearer, more realistic, and attainable.

For example, speaking from the perspective of the people's basic needs, since the Communist Party has put forward to construct the goal of "harmonious society", a more specific new standard has come into existence. That is to make sure everyone has access to education, employment opportunities, housing, and when appropriate, social security and medical treatment. In the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, these new standards have been inscribed into Party's report alongside the words "people's livelihoods" for the first time, and have been frequently mentioned thereafter in various occasions and reports. It can be expected that these new standards will beget more discussions.

These are the core themes of this year's two legislative conventions. These are also the basis to kick-start the reforms that will build a more service-oriented government, restructure major government institutions, and redefine their roles and functions. In other words, China is entering a crucial phase in promoting political reforms and developing a socialist democracy. The comprehensive reform package, following years of sluggish advancement, has finally taken an important step and moved forward.

We believe this is a good beginning to carry out further political reforms spelt out during the 17th national congress. We also believe that a series of democratization process proposed by the congress will be gradually implemented and materialized, such as expanding the scope of nominations and direct elections of people's representatives in villages and urban areas. We hope that the two legislative conventions, while attending to the new conflicts arising from socio-economic development, will also issue strong and lasting reform standards that will become the long term guiding principles of China's future growth beyond the usual five or ten years plans.