China's new priority: social well-being over economic growth
BEIJING (AP) - China's government promised its people on Tuesday that it will fight deep-seated corruption, improve the environment and address other quality-of-life issues demanded by an increasingly vocal public looking for change.
In the government's annual policy speech, outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao signalled that leaders would no longer emphasise growth at all costs and would down-shift development to put priority on social programmes.
"We must make ensuring and improving people's well-being the starting point and goal of all the government's work, give entire priority to it, and strive to strengthen social development," Mr Wen said in a 100-minute speech opening the national parliament's annual session in the Great Hall of the People, his last address before stepping down.
The marked shift in emphasis is emblematic of a once-a-decade leadership transition that began in November when Mr Xi Jinping and other younger leaders were appointed to run the ruling Communist Party. The parliament, known as the National People's Congress, caps the transition and approves appointments to top government posts to manage the economic and foreign policies of the world's second largest economy and rising global power.