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Links 1 through 10 of 24 by David Bandurski tagged economy

Topping the news today at QQ.com and several other Chinese news portals is a story from the official China News Service saying local city governments across China have announced a total of 7 trillion yuan in stimulus spending since July this year. News reports outside China -- like this one (http://on.wsj.com/Necf94) from the Wall Street Journal -- have questioned whether these funds will actually be spent, and whether they will give China's economy a boost.

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According to People's Daily Online, China has recently experienced its first mass return of rural migrants to the countryside from the cities since 2008. Generally, Chinese rural migrants working in the cities return to their hometowns only once every year, before the annual Spring Festival. People's Daily Online said that a weak economy and new property regulations have depressed the labor market, driving many migrants to return to the countryside.

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In a report today, the official China News Service reviews the discussion in China over the need for fairer income distribution (policies to support the lower and middle classes), pointing out that pending plans for income distribution have been touted every year since 2004, always fizzling. Meanwhile, income disparity in China has continued to rise. According to the China News Service report, the wealth of the wealthiest 10% of Chinese in 1988 was 7.3 times that of the poorest 10%. In 2010, Wang Xiaolu (王小鲁), the deputy head of the China Reform Foundation's National Economic Research Institute (NERI), said that per capita income among the wealthiest 10% of Chinese families was 65 times greater than that of the poorest 10% of families.

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One of Sichuan province's largest commercial newspapers recently reported that Wenchuan County (汶川县), the site of the 2008 earthquake in which an estimated 68,000 people died, is now applying for 5A tourism destination status for Yingxiu (映秀), the town situated at the quake's epicenter. The lead editorial in today's The Beijing News questions the wisdom of this move, and cautions that the attempt to refashion Yingxiu as a tourist mecca should be sensitive to the views of the local people, and not just be thrust on them. The editorial concludes: "Tourism services in the earthquake region of Wenchuan should follow a standard, but this standard cannot be a routine application of the 5A tourism standard, but must take into account the special characteristics of the quake region. If the wishes of the people of Yingxiu and the feelings of all Chinese [about the tragedy] are not considered, and tourism is pushed in a big way atop the rubble of disaster, it would be better not to do this."

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In a piece for China Newsweekly magazine, Chen Zhiwu (陈志武), a professor of finance at Yale University, talks about the relative advantages of political systems in China and the United States in terms of economic policy, and argues that owing to a lack of checks and balances "increases in tax levies in China are now completely out of control." He writes: "In China's economic environment we often see the problem of 'over-medication' (下药过猛). Negligence on the part of the National People's Congress and local governments and people's congresses necessarily create a situation of over-medication. The U.S. congress is often unable to reach compromise on this or that issue, and many Chinese suggest the U.S. senate and house are entirely powerless. But if you look at it another way, this is the way organs of power should be in a society where power is checked. They should not have the right to levy taxes however they please."

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In the most recent edition of the journal Tongzhou Gongjin (同舟共进), internationally known Chinese economist Wu Jinglian (吴敬琏) talks about the importance of Deng Xiaoping's "southern tour" in 1992 on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. In the interview, Wu praises the spirit of the market economic reforms initiated by Deng's "southern tour," and warns against the view that China has now attained a new and successful economic model. Wu says: "I don't agree with this view. China's current economic system is a transitional economic system with elements of a market economy and many remnants of the old economic system. It has the potential to either become a market economy under rule of law through further reforms, or to become state capitalism or even crony capitalism."

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In an editorial published in today's edition of Zhejiang Daily, the official Party mouthpiece of Zhejiang, the province's vice-governor, Chen Derong (陈德荣), heaps praise on the entrepreneurial spirit of the city of Wenzhou and criticizes what he calls the "demonization" of private financing. Chen concludes his editorial by saying that Wenzhou entrepreneurs have "used their fresh blood to protect the market economy." A number of entrepreneurs in Wenzhou were reported to have committed suicide in late 2011 as they were unable to repay huge private loans they had taken out with local financiers, often at rates of 70-90 percent. This led some in China to speak out against the practice of underground lending. Chen's editorial today counters by praising what he calls the "Wenzhou Model", based on a fierce entrepreneurial spirit.

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The official China News Service reports today that China's economy grew 9.7 percent in the first quarter of this year, citing numbers from the National Bureau of Statistics.

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Writing on QQ Weibo, blogger Lian Yue (连岳) remarks on a story in today's The Beijing News, which reports that Master Kang (康师傅), which dominates China's market for instant noodles, has postponed price increases planned for April 1 in China after discussions with the government's Development Reform Commission (DRC). Lian Yue writes: "Fuel price increases hit the airlines and the DRC doesn't care, but instant noodle prices go up and the DRC gets nervous. So will the sky fall if prices rise?"

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Reminiscent of his 7 references to political reform in 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao again stressed the need for political reform in a press conference today: "Political reform and economic reform should be advanced in a coordinated manner. This is because all things in the world are subject to change . . . Only through steady reform can the Party and the nation be full of vigor and vitality. Second, political reform is the guarantee of economic reform. Without political reform, economic reforms cannot possibly succeed, and the results we have already obtained will be lost. Third, I think the greatest danger right now lies in corruption. Eliminating the conditions that breed corruption means reforming our systems and institutions." Compare to Wu Bangguo against political reform at NPC:  "If we waver, not only will there be no building of socialist modernization to speak of, but the development gains we have already made will be lost, and the nation might even descend into internal chaos."

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