New government review 03-05-2004 17:12

Since the new generation of Chinese leaders took office last March, the team has withstood one test after another. There was the SARS epidemic, the challenges of helping the underprivileged and sustaining economic growth and the task to bolster China's role in the world. But as analysts point out, a pragmatic approach has helped them to achieve their goals.

鈥淥ld faces, but new responsibilities鈥 Newly elected President Hu Jintao made a vow at the end of the NPC Congress in March 2003 to work in the interests of the people. And Premier Wen Jiabao described himself as a man of faith, conviction and responsibility. And their commitments were soon to be tested. Just one month after they took office, the new government was faced with an unprecedented challenge. With the SARS epidemic becoming an increasing threat in China, Hu Jintao took to the streets in SARS-stricken Guangdong province on a confidence drive.

The government also took the responsibility of mishandling of the disease in the early stage and sacked two high-ranking officials as the number of infections soared. And more than 120 other officials were dismissed for failing to deal with the outbreak properly.

Premier Wen Jiabao convened a State Council meeting and introduced emergency public health regulations. During his first overseas trip to attend the China-ASEAN meeting in Bangkok, he told China's Asian neighbors that a responsible Chinese government would work with other countries to keep the epidemic from spreading further.

In the course of 10 months, the new leaders have been to the United States, Europe, Australia and Africa. For the first time ever, President Hu Jintao attended the G-8 meeting in France as a representative of the world's biggest developing country. His message was that the South and the North need to cooperate in a fair way and China would seek to make this happen. China also brokered the first and second rounds of 6-party talks to resolve the DPRK nuclear standoff. Premier Wen Jiabao's 4-nation diplomatic tour further consolidated China's world status.

Premier Wen's new year dinner took him to a coal pit in Noetheast China. By trading talk and sharing food, he was trying to convince the workers that the government wants to help rather than ignore them. The new leadership has also pledged to help the underprivileged, especially farmers and the urban poor. During the National Day holiday, the premier gathered with children in an area hit by floods.

Progress has been steady. China saw its first astronaut catapulted into space and the economy grew by 9.1 percent in 2003, the fastest since 1997. But the new leadership still has a long way to go to narrow the gap between rich and poor and to bring about a healthy and coordinated development.


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