原页面 2000年3月4日创建 (Netscape Site Page)
Is There No Definite Economy Increase Target
Premier Zhu's Report at 3rd Session of 9th NPC?
( 03/04/2000 )
Special Report by Simon Xi ZHANG
The 9th National People's Congress of People's Republic of China opened its 3rd Session in Beijing hours ago, 09:00 March 5, 2000 (GMT +08:00).
First of all, let me express my best wishes to and blessings for all the delegates to the 3rd Session of the 9th NPC ! May their wisdom and courage be brought forth to help resolve the current predicaments in our beloved homeland: pervasive corruption and pressing tension across Taiwan Straight. Peace and Welfare be to our beloved People !
As a course of manner, the Session began with Premier ZHU Rong-ji's Administration Report to the National People's Congress. What has drawn particular attentions of delegates and mass media, even it is just hours span between his speech and publication of this special report, is that Premier Zhu did not give us a specific, definite, concrete target for GNP increase of fiscal year 2000 - 2001. Why NOT? Isn't it one of the most important promises that the Chinese goverment has made every year before its people and global community in recent decade? It is hardly considered as a neglegent omission. But what is the reason, if there is any, behind this intentional runaround?
Here, please let me talk about something "else" not directly relevant.
Seemingly, there is a difference in problem resolving strategies respectively for a physician, an attorney and a politician.
A physician's job is to fight with the virus and other causes of illness of our human beings. A physician is not supposed to be the savior of our bodies and absolutely it is an unrealistic demand to ask a physician to be so. Most failures of the physician are not blames for her, since what she can use is only, at most, the objective scientific knowledge known to the general medical professionals. Most times, the weapon for a physician in her fight with Sadan is limited, is known to her by the time then, and that any treatment endeavor exceeds the knowledge limit, from the very beginning, is considered as a courageous discovery not mandatorily requiring positive goal. Even such a loser deserves glory and honor.
One of the attorney's goal is to protect his clients' interests to the very furthest extent. However, more than one strategy are at the attorney's desposition. What an attorney does is to study the case carefully and pick up the strongest point for his attack, trying to elude negative ones, and sometimes needs to think out one or more substitutional strategies. In many cases, he can even endeavor to argue for a sharp change of current laws, based on public policy or whatever cause the judge will buy. Not every rule for the argument is well settled, or even it be so, it is still not crystal clear to have every reasonable person believe that such well-settled rule shall apply in the pending case. Compared with physicians, legal professionals do not rely so heavily on objective standard of "existed" knowledge and/or rules. However, in every litigation, there is a winner and a loser. Not every losing attorney deserves blame or scorn.
A politician even has more freedom in policy making than an attorney. However, what is before a politician is never problems that can be resolved with only objective, or even to say, reasonable, methods. Speculation is, sometimes, great gift for a politician, so long as this talent is neatly used and brings forth success. The physician needs to know everything of her patients' health conditions. The attorney is better to have known what the negative elements are for his clients' case even if he would try to escape facing them before the court. For a politician, it is always hard to have him or her know everything aforehead. Moreover, sometimes, [s]he might even prefer not knowing everything. A politician is not a bureaucrat who follows downward systematic instructions, but more like Furtwaengler as an interpretor of Beethoven über alles. Neverthless, still a difference is here: politician is not dealing with artistic impulse, but real life and people with different interests. Yeah, physician has only one person to treat, attorney has both parties to handle with, however, for a politician, tens of millions people ! ( In China, it is nearly one and a half billion !) But a loser in politics always goes to the bin of the history, even that is still more benevolent compared with those dumped down by a coup d'etat.
Unfortunately, Premier Zhu finds himself a politician administering a country with the biggest population in this world at a time witnessing both global and internal fundamental change.
China's GNP for fiscal year 1999-2000 met a retarded increase, for the first time within recent ten years, at only 7.1%. It was nearly 12.5% lower than what Zhu promised: 8%. And this embarrasing number (7.1%] has yet been generally considered as an exaggerate one. China Youth Daily recently published an article, discovering that there was very big gap between the sum of the local "GNP" respectively reported to the central goverment by provincial goverments and that in the final result of State Statistic Bureau's annual release on February 28, 2000.
Premier Zhu has set for strong attacks on Chinese economy's deadhorse: State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). Upon his inauguration, positive reformative result of SOEs was one of his main goals for economic reform, however, his defeat in last two years has humulitated him to some extent. An intellectual-inclined Chinese premier who has been famous for his stern on reformative actions, "harsh" to ineffective bureaucrats and "No non-sense", is now embarrased with his own failure to perform his own promise before 1.3 billion citizens, the whole world, and, not omitting those still in-position conservative political bosses in Chinese goverment.
This man is the third reformatist premier within recent 20 years in Chinese history. His two reformatist predecessors did not have glorious ends in their political lives, even worse than the "glorious retreat" of United Kingdom from Hong Kong. It is necessary to point out here that both predecessors failed not for their economic policies, but political viewpoints. However, it has been quite known to the public that Premier Zhu not always finds himself allied by followers in the core of Chinese power -- CCP Polit-buro, or even in his own Cabinet, the State Council (please remember that Minister WU Ji-chuan at Ministry of Information Industry and Minister LIU Jiang at Ministry of Agricultre so vehemently opposed to concession in their industries to United States during WTO entrance billateral talk that once even expressed their determinations of resignation in case there is any concession unacceptable to these two Chinese ministers, of whom a Japanese style "self political exile" is neither popular nor morally respected). Premier Zhu is the last high rank Chinese official publicly strongly accusing Taiwan's "intention of separation from motherland", and I am obliged, by my consciousness, to point out that his remark is the mildest among his colleagues. Furthermore, never forget that it is this man, as Mayor of Shanghai, who coldly turned down Nanjing Military District's eager "offer" to send troops into his city during June, 1989.
Now he has come to be the third reformatist Chinese Premier. Currently, China might be a good offer for a reformatist conducting an experiment because there are really so many things need to be changed in this grand land: inefficient SOEs, millions of lay-off workers, a shrinking economy in production and construction coupled with keep-lowering bank interest rate, watchful eyes of Chinese upon their own purses, more and more out-spoken voices among intellectuals, dissidents and worker union organizors, with a newly defected high rank re-incarnation Tibetan Lama in addition ( I would think this young man is more embarrassing for President Jiang than Premier Zhu). Premier Zhu is not supposed to have all these stuffs resolved, actually, someone also would not like to see everything in China is under his power and control or themselves would get laid off as well. But the economic works for him is of most difficulty among theirs. China does not lack well-trained state apparatus to "cure the mental illness" of her people, and there is plenty of draconian laws and harsh policies to penalize any trouble-maker. What China does lack are: local officials felt legally obliged to follow their Premier's order and teaching, national wide efficient management in enterprises, a dextral "invisible hand" of Adam Smith, a catalyzer to stimulate people's desire to purchase, and a set of rules in aid of achieving goals aforesaid.
It seems that Premier Zhu feels "handicuffed" by these problems now. Maybe he does not find any practical countermeasure, or he is not assured that his policy can be strictly carried on downwards to thousands of counties and hundred of thousands SOEs. Or that he feels like a freshman in medical school "counselling" a parkinsonian, or a Chinese law student nervously waiting for his first oral argument for appellate brief at US law school. However, Zhu is not a person who starts his work without a goal in mind, nor who is likely to totally retreat before barricades and throw his plan away. The only reason for the suspect "omission" is that he prefers to hide it away before the public. But what is the reason, if there is still any, behind this child-trick-like one?
It is not useful to say here, even truthfully, that Zhu is not Big Brother and thus can not set out a target then have Department of Truth to do the dirty work afterwards. He himself suffered from "anti-rightist movement" and "big leap forward" so he clearly knows that what Chinese people will think of an over-boastful unrealistic target.
But not to overstate does not necessarily means not to speak out at all. Why not put a moderate number there, for example, 6.2%? Does it really matter that how much Chinese goverment predicts her GNP will be? If people just think of last weekend's crazy IPO of AsiaInfo and UTStarcom at Nasdaq, clearly we can see that at least in one industry, global community does have strong interest and stake in at least one form of investment in China. The city where Premier Zhu governed before, Shanghai, has become the most robust city in China. CitiBank, HSBC and Standard Chartered has already assigned Shanghai branches as their Chinese headquarters. It is only months ago that Shanghai even competed squarely, though failed in the end, with HongKong for Walt Disney's first theme park in China. Concerns for negative hint to foreign investors seems not be a valid reason. As to national market, Premier Zhu keeps urging more investments in constructions and infrastructure projects, also the residential housing market. Another 200 Billion RMB State Bond was issued and an extra 100 Billion RMB loan for personal housing was added for year 2000-2001. Big steps taken, it is time waiting to see market response, a speculative algebraic number of 5% or 6% or whatever it be is less important than huge currency poured down into the market.
Therefore, one move forward trying to read Premier's mind that why hiding his golden number: maybe he is losing alliance at high above and in his economy reform circular? Apparently, leading an investigation of smuggle where the military has some stake in, coupled with corruption, is not a friendly gesture for everyone. Anyway, he has his big boss behind. Minor different stands as to Taiwan Issue between Administration and Military has been widely interpreted to be a symbol of struggle between Reformatists and Conservatists in Communist Forbidden City, respectively backed up by current and last Premier. Luckily, "we all are fellow comrades inside the Party". The final arbiter, as every famous Chinese emperor did during thousands of years, loves to see a balance of power among his chancelleries. It is a "check and balance with Chinese characteristics", what a wise man our General Architector was ! However, one of Premier Zhu's favorite staff and reliable assistant for Premier's reform, President of EverGreen Group, ex-duputy governor of People's Bank of China, Mr. ZHU Xiao-hua, was recently unofficially dumped down for corruption, maybe also disfavor towards that guy among others. Maybe, Premier IS losing alliance. It is naturally better for him not to provide another accusation for his opponents by the end of this fiscal year.
At last, a single sentence for a rather striking speculation why such an important number disappears from Premier Zhu's Administration Report. Please do not take this very serious. Might it be for the reason ... tht even the Premier is not sure whether there will be an imminent war across Taiwan Straight?
Till present, four hours after Premier Zhu finished his Administration Report to 3rd Session of 9th National People's Congress, I cannot find a definite answer why he did not give us a definite number for the target of GNP increase in fiscal year 2000-2001. However, I have already seen this great man's ability as a competent politician in present China. He has handled many things well. Even though the national spreading lay-off of SOE workers, an inevitable result of his bold and resolute reform, has drawn many critics for him, no doubt among all the high rank cadres and officials, he is the one most respected and trusted by many ordinary Chinese, no matter at home or overseas. During his visit to United States shortly before the Belgrade Embassy bombing, Premier Zhu showed off his skill as a politician, when directly/indirectly faced demonstration, far better than his last predecessor in Europe and big boss in London and Lyons.
China is on her way towards economic advance now, particularly at present, she is facing WTO entrance issue ( a problematic US Senate vote on Clinton administration's bill proposing granting China PNTR three days away and a more conflicting fight expected in US House soon) and an intense situation across Taiwan Straight. Premier Zhu has already had much to cope with in his economic reform work within China, any external intereference with that only serves as obstruction. And even if China smoothly goes over year 2000, a continual economy reform, if there will be, will face more and more tough problems and stronger oppositions. Premier Zhu is a person many Chinese people do not want to lose at this critical time. Let there be no negative influence for a non-appearance of definite GNP increase target in his Administration Report. An intellectual people and responsible public servant as Premier ZHU Rong-ji is for us at the time China faces extensive and fundamental change in society can be compared with the Great Prophet Jeremiah was for Israel. His work may serve China's future progress in a way not seen by us at present. May his goal achieves. Let this Prophet's name be remembered for his love for the People and devote to his Country, not for his Lamentations !
(c) Simon Xi ZHANG, 2000.
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