China’s aspirations for its economy over the next decade have come up repeatedly at the National Party Congress, in discussions on the sidelines of the meeting and in state media’s coverage of the event. It also figured prominently in the opening speech of outgoing President Hu Jintao. In his address, Hu mentioned the economy 104 times in a wide range of contexts. Economic development was mentioned more than a dozen times, as was former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s catchphrase "gaige kaifang," or, "reform and opening up."
And while the risks China’s economy is facing were not mentioned as much, they were not ignored. Hu’s most direct comment on the challenges the country faces came when he said the opportunities and risks China face are not like anything before. This year China’s economy is slowing to its slowest growth rate in more than a decade. And although the projected year-on-year growth rate of around 7.5 percent remains enviable to many countries, that is nearly half of what it was just five years ago.
Zhang Ping, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission voiced confidence that the economy was improving, despite the slowdown. But he acknowledged there are still contradictions that need to be addressed. Zhang says that China still lacks a balanced, coordinated and sustainable development, and its growth model is very crude. He says that along with the weakening overseas demand, China still has excessive production capacity in several sectors.
"We still lack a balanced, coordinated and sustainable development, and our growth model is still very crude. And along with the weakening overseas market demand, we still have an excessive production capacity in several sectors," he said. "There are also structural problems that need to be adjusted. It will take some time to solve these problems. These contradictions are having some impact on the development of domestic economy."