Responsible Development


By LI JIANGUO

Largely due to the Chinese Government’s energetic promotion, “scientific concept of development” has become a buzz phrase among officials, economists and media.

This concept encompasses the principle of comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development to nurture both the economy and the greater society. This amended approach comes in the wake of unprecedented economic growth over the past several years in China.

China began its reform and opening up to the outside world in 1978, placing economic construction at the core of development. In the following 25 years, its economic achievements were indeed astounding. In 2003, the country’s per-capita GDP exceeded $1,000. However, this initial success has led to a one track GDP-chasing scheme for growth in some parts of the most populous country in the world. Consequently, worrying imbalances between social and economic development have arisen.

According to the law of the process of development, the period when a country’s per-capita GDP is between $500 and $3,000 is a key phase for assessing the harmony of economic and social development. Dangers include economic dislocation, disordered society and an ill social mentality and moral system. Decision makers ought to pay close attention to this transition period. The outbreak of SARS last year has provided a costly lesson that imbalances in urban-rural and social-economic development can certainly cripple a nation’s progress.

China has a large population with relative deficiency in resources and low per-capita reserves of important mineral resources. Rapid economic development in the past 20 years also created many new problems such as energy wastage and environmental deterioration. The conflict between humanity and nature has sharpened.

Economic indicators cannot completely reflect the balance that must be struck between industrial civilization and the environment. Some may end up permanently damaging the environment and waste natural resources through greed for or mere negligence to chase a high GDP figure.

A portion of GDP growth comes only from wasting the resources that future generations need to live. Evaluated in terms of the scientific concept of development model, some GDP growth is actually destruction, rather than achievement.

Economic development cannot stand by a ruined environment and blown resources. It is ultimately more important to protect ecological systems and to reconcile human development with natural limitation. Development in which the sole goal is economic growth is not sustainable.

A scientific concept of development intends to find a healthy way to develop China’s economy into the future.