China's Leaders Meet to Map Out Economic Reform


14 November, 2013

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This is the Economics Report from VOA Learning English.

This has been a year of changing in China. The Chinese economy is slowing down. For the past 30 years, economy growth in China has lifted millions of people out of poverty. The country is now a world power second only to the United States, but its growth has slowed, and social problems are increasing.

Many people now agree that China must change the economic model it has used since 1980s. Experts say China has been too depended on cheap or low-cost labor, cheap exports and cheap resources like coal to fuel its economic growth. Now, as wages rise, the world economy continues to struggle and Chinese citizens are increasingly worried about the environment and pollution.

Yang Jisheng is a Chinese journalist. He says the country can not continue to operate as it has, a new model is needed, he says. He adds, there has been talk of a new model for more than ten years, but change has not been possible under the current system. So what China needs now, he says, is even more reform.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top officials met recently to discuss plans for dealing with the country's problems over the next 5 to 10 years. The official XinHua News Agency reported on the 4 day long meeting. It said the Communist Party suggested a great role for the free market in China's state controlled economy.

David Kelly works in Beijing for the group China Policy. He says one problem facing China is its state-owned businesses, they are politically powerful and have controlled large parts of the country's economy for many years.

Experts say these companies have demonstrated more power than some government ministries. They are also a source of corruption, a problem the new leadership has promised to deal with. China's leadership has called its campaign against corruption "a life or death struggle for the Communist Party."

"The other thing is the world financial crisis, which leaves China with a slowing growth rate, which it has to now really believe, even though it has mouthed this before, that it is real. So, these things mean that, I would say that you cannot use the textbook, for what we know about the function of the third plenum, it is likely to have some extraordinary items," Kelly said.

Chinese economist Mao Yushi agrees that political reforms are needed, but he is not sure they would be carried out. Mao Yushi says, the new leadership's efforts against corruption are welcome, but he says the campaign has yet to gain strength.

In his words, "The real root of this problem is the public's ability to exercise oversight of the Communist Party. And recently the government has been tightening its controls of speech and oversight."

And that's the VOA Learning English Economics Report. For more reports and lessons, go to our website at 51voa.com. Follow us on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. I'm Mario Ritter.