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Five-year plan gets ringing endorsement of legislators

Updated: Mar 17,2016 9:28 AM     China Daily

Lawmakers participate in a vote on March 16.[Photo provided to China Daily]

After making dozens of people-oriented changes, national legislators gave a ringing endorsement on March 16 to the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the road map that sets the course for the world’s second-largest economy in the coming half-decade.

The economic and social development blueprint won 2,778 “yes” votes, or 97 percent of the total National People’s Congress, at the close of the annual legislative session.

Lawmakers, in cooperation with the country’s political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, made 57 revisions to the draft plan during nearly two weeks of deliberations. Changes ranged from ramped-up job creation to the training of more pediatricians in the wake of the universal second-child policy.

The NPC’s ratification capped months of drafting efforts, during which opinions were collected from Party members, non-Communist parties, industry leaders, commerce federations and members of the public.

Projecting an annual growth rate of at least 6.5 percent, the plan calls for “more than 50 million” new urban jobs to be created, exceeding the ambition of the earlier draft, which had called for up to 50 million.

The adjustment, while small, shows that “the deputies and political advisors are keen to tackle the employment problem, given the country’s aging population”, said Chen Yu, vice-president of the China Association for Employment Promotion.

At the request of legislators and political advisers, the plan also rolled out measures to address questions arising from the December revision of the decades-old family planning policy. The revision allows all couples to have a second child.

A bullet point in the final version of the blueprint shows the thinking of lawmakers: “Enhance the caring and assistance to families that lost their only child.” It adds that more care should be given to women in bearing and rearing children.

A study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank, estimated that 1 million families had lost their only child to disease or accident as of 2012, and the number was expected to grow by 76,000 each year.

“They are now allowed to give birth a second time, but some of the mothers belong to the senior age group, which means more risks in childbirth,” said Wang Jinying, deputy chief of the Economics Institute at Hebei University.

This calls for technical and other help to guarantee the safety and health of both mother and child, the 21st Century Business Herald quoted Wang as saying.

Another conspicuous change to the original blueprint was the deletion of a “strategic emerging board”, a list of emerging new growth industries-in high-tech, for example-an idea suggested by the China Securities Regulatory Commission last June to complement Shenzhen’s existing ChiNext board.

The move indicates the authorities’ practical approach to stabilizing the capital market, Wang Hanfeng, chief analyst of China International Capital Corp, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying on March 16.

The approved five-year plan also stipulates a “vigorous smoking ban in public areas” and promotes the development of the country’s dairy industry.

Other changes include efforts to raise literacy in science above 10 percent nationwide by 2020.