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Looking forward: China's major events in 2008
2008/01/07

    BEIJING, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Electing new State leadership, hosting the 29th Summer Olympic Games and marking the 30th anniversary of reform and opening-up -- 2008 will bear witness to China's economic and social progress.

    Prevent economic overheating, curb inflation

    The economy has grown faster than 10 percent annually for the past five years. The primary task of China's 2008 economic work has been set: "to prevent the economy from becoming overheated and to guard against a shift from structural price rises to inflation."

    Fueled by continuous food price hikes, the consumer price index(CPI) jumped by 6.9 percent in November, the highest in nearly 10 years. This sharp increase indicated accelerating inflation pressure.

    Higher food prices, including those of pork -- the country's staple meat -- had a strong impact on people's lives, especially low-income earners. Inflation could affect China's stable economic development and the government has put a high priority on curbing price hikes.

    In 2008, China shifted its monetary policy from a "prudent" stance, which the country had followed for the last 10 years, to "tightening." China will use tighter monetary policies and prudent fiscal policies to ensure structural adjustment and uniform economic development.

    Elect new State leaders during March 2008 meetings

    China has decided to convene the first plenary session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) on March 5, 2008, during which top state and government leaders will be elected.

    The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China(CPC),convened in October 2007, drew up overall plans for economic, political, cultural, social construction and party building activities. During the First Session of the 11th NPC, the deputies will discuss and vote through major reform plans, including a State Council plan on institutional reform.

Host the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

    Beijing will host the 29th Summer Olympic Games starting on Aug. 8 and the Paralympics on Sept. 6. From stadium construction to recruitment of volunteers, China has tackled preparation for the upcoming games.

    As the Beijing Olympics logo says, 'One world, One dream,' China is trying to provide best services for the competitors and spectators.

    China also intends to showcase an open and harmonious China to the world and carry forward the Olympic spirit in China.

    Mark the 30th anniversary of reform and opening up

    This year will be the 30th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. At the end of 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee was held in Beijing, starting an era of reform and opening up.

    The session adopted the policy of reform and opening up and shifted the work of the party and state from "taking class struggle as the key link" to economic development.

    From the countryside to the city, great changes have taken place in China since that decision, which has been proven correct by history.

    Implement laws to promote social justice and harmony

    New laws are taking effect in 2008 to promote social justice and harmony. The Labor Contract Law, which took effect on Tuesday, entitled employees who have at least 10 years' service in one company to sign contracts that protect them from dismissal without cause. It also required employers to contribute to employees' social security accounts and set wage standards for probation and overtime.

    Also from Tuesday, a milestone corporate income tax law took effect. The law set a unified income tax rate for domestic and foreign companies at 25 percent. This came after years of criticism that the original dual income tax mechanism, intended to attract foreign investment, was unfair to domestic enterprises.

    The anti-monopoly law, which aims to ensure fair competition, will take effect on Aug. 1. Lawmakers said the statute will improve market regulation and provide a better environment for domestic and foreign investors.

 Launch the Shenzhou VII spacecraft

    China's third manned space mission is scheduled to be launched in 2008. Compared with the previous two manned space flights, the upcoming Shenzhou VII space mission, which includes a space walk, is more complex. The crew is also scheduled to perform extravehicular work such as installing equipment and tightening screws.

    There are 14 astronauts undergoing extensive training for this project and learning to cope with any contingencies. The Shenzhou VII is expected to carry three astronauts in 2008 on a Long March 2F carrier rocket that is being tested now.

    China launched its manned space program in 1999. It successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country's first astronaut, into orbit on the Shenzhou V spacecraft in 2003. Yang spent about 21 hours in orbit.

    Two years later, astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a Chinese record five-day flight on the Shenzhou VI. All astronauts returned safely.

    Hu Jintao to visit Japan

    Chinese President Hu Jintao will visit Japan this spring, which will be the first visit by a Chinese President to Japan in a decade, since former President Jiang Zemin's journey in 1998.

    Hu's trip was scheduled by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who concluded a China visit last week.

    In 2008, the two countries will mark the 30th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Meanwhile, youth exchange programs will be promoted to observe the China-Japan Friendly Exchange Year of the Youth in 2008.

    Long-term, stable and friendly relations are the common goal of people in both countries and the responsibility of their leaders.

    Improve people's livelihood

    The government promised to establish a cooperative health care network covering all rural residents by the end of 2008. Also, by the end of 2010, it will extend the medical insurance system for employed urban residents, aiming to provide safe, effective, convenient and low-cost public health and medical services to the entire population.

    China would also set up an independent system for the production, procurement and distribution of basic drugs, and also a government fund to allocate more subsidies to rural cooperative medicare and urban insurance.

    Medical reforms started in 1992 with the aim of creating a multi-faceted system to satisfy different types of public demand.     

    China will continue to spend more on education in 2008 and expand free nine-year compulsory education among rural and urban children.

    The government has also vowed to curb rising housing prices to help urban low-income families, by expediting the low-rent housing system and improving the affordable housing system.

Editor: An Lu

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