China’s Premier Wen Jiabao targets ‘social stability’

Top priority in macroeconomic control to keep overall price levels stable.

BEIJING – China must ensure social stability by reducing inflation and corruption, Premier Wen Jiabao has told the parliament’s annual session, BBC informs. Mr Wen has been addressing about 3,000 delegates to open the National People’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He says the government aims to keep inflation to within 4% and hit economic growth of 8%. Mr Wen accepted that uneven economic development was a “serious problem”.

The focus on social stability was echoed in an editorial in the Communist Party-run Beijing Daily that coincided with the opening of the Congress and which warned against any Middle East-inspired pro-democracy protests.

The speech is the most important of the year delivered by a Chinese politician, correspondents say, similar in status to the State of the Union address in the US.

“Recently, prices have risen fairly quickly and inflation expectations have increased,” Mr Wen says. “This problem concerns the people’s well-being, bears on overall interests and affects social stability. We must, therefore, make it our top priority in macroeconomic control to keep overall price levels stable.” Inflation in China is at 4.9%, and has continued to accelerate despite three recent interest rate hikes. Analysts say it has yet to peak. Rising prices are a concern because poor families spend up to half their incomes on food. This year’s National People’s Congress, which meets for 10 days, is to approve China’s five-year plan for 2011-2015. The plan, the country’s 12th since the Communist Party took power in 1949, aims to create more sustainable growth and even out growing disparities in wealth between rich and poor.

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