China will have to make tremendous efforts if it is to become a moderately
developed country by the middle of this century, according to experts.
He Chuanqi, director of China Modernization Research Centre under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily yesterday it had only a 6 per cent chance of making the target by 2050.
He based his calculation on China maintaining its current annual economic growth speed of more than 9 per cent and the rest of the world keeping its own, lower average speed of growth.
He made the remarks after his research team published the China Modernization Report 2006 on Tuesday.
Moderately developed countries are evaluated in terms of per capita revenues, social development levels and the application of science and technologies rather than just economic growth. Some concrete indices include an 80 per cent urbanization rate, car ownership of 50 per cent, 50 per cent of suburbanization among city residents, medical insurance coverage of 100 per cent, a minimum average monthly salary of $1,300, and an average 17 years' education expectance.
To become such a moderately developed country, China has to move 500 million rural residents to cities while relocate 600 million urban residents to suburbs.
Education is another challenge. So far, many developed countries have popularized a 17-year education, which includes primary, middle and high schools as well as colleges. But China is still struggling to make a nine-year education accessible for all people.
China's labourers also number about 700-800 million, close to the total population of the developed countries. To be a moderately developed country, 50 per cent of them will have to be classed as higher skilled, knowledge-based workers while the current level is less than 10 per cent.
The modernization research team led by He recommended 10 major suggestions, which include popularizing free compulsory education, eliminating absolute poverty and shortening the intellectual gap between social strata. "We must reconsider our development route to tap a new, untraditional path in our way of moderation," He said.