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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> 11th NPC & CPPCC 2008> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: March 24, 2008 NO.13 MAR.27, 2008)
Arena for Change
Many of China's policy-makings originate from the country's top advisory body

When Chinese top political advisor Jia Qinglin delivered a summary report to the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on March 3, he described the five-year tenure of the 10th CPPCC National Committee as a tremendous period.

Founded in 1949, the CPPCC is a key mechanism for multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

During the past five years, the National Committee of the CPPCC handled over 23,000 proposals, compiled more than 100 reports on inspection tours, submitted over 270 survey and research reports, organized 4,000 session speeches and provided in excess of 6,600 reports on social conditions and popular sentiment. Among them, suggestions about promoting the development of the western region, rejuvenating northeast China and other old industrial bases, and boosting the development of the central region resulted in the perfection of an overall strategy for the nation's regional development.

One major national strategy that came from CPPCC proposals was to develop and open up the Binhai New Area, a development zone in the port city of Tianjin, 120 km southeast of Beijing, which won Central Government approval in 2006.

In a statement from the State Council, the 2,300-square-km area was officially designated an experimental zone for comprehensive reform, with short-term emphasis on financial and allied services. A series of experimental schemes will be launched in Binhai including financial initiatives, land administration methods, a bonded area and preferential tax policies.

The CPPCC made suggestions on promoting economic development on the west coast of the Taiwan Straits in Fujian Province and developing the bonded area in Dayao Bay Port, a major container port in north China. These proposals also played an important role in the incorporation of these areas into the national development plan.

Fujian Provincial Government signed an agreement on establishing an economic zone on the west coast of the Taiwan Straits with the Agricultural Bank of China in March 2005, according to which the bank would provide credit of 80 billion yuan ($11.3 billion) to Fujian for the establishment of the economic zone.

The CPPCC's special topic studies and consultations regarding development of the Guangxi Beibu Bay Economic Zone were important to the economic development of the country's coastal areas.

The government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region announced in February that the State Council had approved the Guangxi Beibu Bay Economic Zone Development Plan. According to the plan, the economic zone, with a population of 12.4 million, will cover 42,500 square km of land and stretch along 1,595 km of coastline. The economic zone will be built into a regional trade center that promotes business links between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Suggestions by CPPCC members that have become government policies or decisions include protecting and supporting kunqu opera, protecting cultural relics in the South-to-North Water Diversion Project and protecting the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

In May 2004, the government launched a program to save, protect and support kunqu opera. Under the program, the government will establish three to four kunqu protection centers, create 10 new kunqu scripts and rescue 15 classic scripts and 200 traditional scripts from 2005 to 2009.

The Ministry of Culture has also required each of the seven professional kunqu theaters to give 20 free public performances at colleges annually. The central and local governments will cover the cost of the college performances.

During the annual session of the CPPCC in 2006, 58 CPPCC members submitted a proposal requiring the 1,400-year-old Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal to apply for inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage List.

Chen Kuiyuan, Vice Chairman of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC and President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was one of the officials calling for improved protection of the oldest and longest manmade waterway in the world.

Chen headed an inspection group composed of members of the National Committee of the CPPCC and experts along the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou to assess its condition, in May 2006. The canal is under threat from urban expansion, industrial pollution and is drying up in some sections.

The Chinese Government plans to invest 50 million yuan ($7 million) to protect cultural relics along the routes of the gigantic South-to-North Water Diversion Project, the office in charge of the project announced in November 2005.

This decision is partly thanks to a proposal jointly signed by over 40 CPPCC members and spearheaded by Shan Jixiang, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, in 2004. The proposal emphasized that the government branch in charge of the project should learn from cultural relics protection work carried out during the building of the Three Gorges Project and allow professional archeologists to participate in early stages of field construction.

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