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Big issues, details and urgent tasks

Big issues, details and urgent tasks

Updated: 2012-03-08 09:27

By Pauline D loh (China Daily)

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The annual housekeeping has started. About 3,000 deputies and members have gathered in Beijing for the annual two sessions of the NPC and CPPCC to tackle a huge agenda ranging from the growth of the nation's GDP in the next 12 months to the protection of endangered golden monkeys in Sichuan.

In between, they will be discussing new nuclear plants, rocket launches, the ban of shark's fin from dinner tables, domestic violence, the introduction of better health reforms and social security and the proposals to regulate pollution, environmental protection and reforestation.

The range of issues only shows the tip of the iceberg, for the work at hand is governing a country of 1.37 billion, more than four times the population of the US.

The lawmakers need to look at big pictures, but they also need to work on the small strokes.

On the macro aspect, they must make sure economic and social growth is sustainable for China in the next decade or two. They need to learn to protect the environment better so the land can continue to feed a vast population. Food safety must be addressed. Rapid urbanization must be managed. Already, there are proposals to use more green drivers to stimulate the economy.

The detailed level includes issues on how to convert public hospitals to the proposed health reforms. The resistance stems from survival. We all know even flu patients are encouraged to go on drips because the hospitals depend on the extra money from selling the services and supplementary medication.

The deputies will also have to ponder how to make school buses safer, and worry about the eroding social and moral values of China's future leaders, the students who sit in those same buses.

Hence, a moral icon from the 1960s has been resurrected and all over national media, renewed praises of Lei Feng, China's most famous role model, are ringing out loud and relentlessly.

On top of all the pressing problems that demand immediate solutions, there is also the overwhelming task of managing expectations, both of the 1.37 billion at home and critics and observers abroad, including some grumpy old politicians in Washington.

Republican criticism of China has ranged from unfair trade practices to an allegedly artificially undervalued currency - and rumbles of a punitive import tax on Chinese-made tires are being added to the cacophony of protests.

Of course, we know that in an election year, Washington must make all the proper noises to show it is protecting American jobs and the interests of its people.

But oddly enough, so must China.

The central government has only one allegiance, and that is to its people. They need to make sure the Chinese can join the rest of the world in having a decent standard of living, and that translates to more jobs, better spending power and good infrastructure.

It also has more than four times the people to feed as the US.

It is an enormous amount of housekeeping to do, and we all need to get on with it.

The author is the managing editor of China Daily's Sunday edition. You may contact the writer at