China promises more social benefits

March 7, 2006 at 5:16 AM
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BEIJING, March 7 (UPI) -- China is to opt for higher income, affordable housing, better education and less pollution in the next five years, the development minister said Monday.

For the first time, China's five-year plan seeks all-round social and economic benefits for citizens instead of just economic expansion, said Ma Kai, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a press briefing during the annual session of the National People's Congress.

He acknowledged that a great deal of effort would be needed to achieve the "ambitious and inspiring" goals, China Daily reported.

Ma said that China's average urban per capita disposable income in 2010 would be $1,650, while rural per capita net income would be $511. The gap between urban and rural income levels would remain as wide as it is now, despite the various policies being proposed to help develop the countryside.

Ma said about 45 million farmers would be trained to take up industrial jobs in five years, and China planned to improve rural water supplies, providing safe drinking water for 100 million residents by 2010.

As for education, Ma said the main task was to promote and consolidate the nine-year compulsory education system, especially in the vast countryside.

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