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The annual political limelight of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is scheduled to be put on in Beijing in the first half month of March. As usual, some city residents will complain once again about the snarled traffic, to make way for the people's delegates' limousines and coaches led and protected by police, but there is much hope among the public that the 2-week gala show comes up with something of substance. |
Like the Eight-do's-and-donot's guidelines, articulated by President Hu Jintao at the NPC session last year. Many friends of mine rate the Eight Lines as "codes for life", such as "Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the cost of our traditional values", while I treasure the last line most: Know plain living and hard work, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures. That is very Chinese (culture), and, is what my mother had told me and siblings before I left hometown to attend college in Beijing.
Two pieces of legislation are expected to be approved by the lawmakers during the upcoming session: a new corporate income tax bill and the property rights law.
There are already foreign news reports and analyses that criticize the legislative move to unify the corporate income tax from a hybrid range of 15-33 per cent to a single 25 percent. Some said the move would jack up the combined tax bill of all foreign invested enterprises by 5 billion dollars a year, cutting into their financial books. But these reports don't make it clear that the tax unification act will be implemented in a time span of five years, so that the firms can gradually get used to the revision; and as Chinese government officials have already put out, the majority of foreign firms will continue to enjoy favorable rates, say 15 percent, because they belong to the high-tech.
Anyway, it is a long over due move taken by the government, and also a request needed by China's entry to the World Trade Organization in 2000. A unified tax code will create a taxation environment that favors fair competition among all ventures registered in China, be it a domestic firm or a foreign funded one.
The property rights bill will define the constitutional rights of the state-, collective- and privately-owned property, which will be decreed equal before the law. Although the bill has seen at least five rounds of reading at the NPC Standing Committee level, questions linger. Sure, the private proceeds of the urbanities will be better protected by the law, but it is unclear whether rural residents could have more legal bindings to their all-precious land, on which they make a living.
Talking about the plight of the 800-million farmers, one with a little conscientiousness would argue that the administration is obliged to do more to aid them. A slew of hot issues being discussed by senior government officials and the popular netizens -- income divide, medical care shortage, education cost, residency registration regime - all concern the farmers.
There is a saying that the hard work and selfless contribution of China's 250 million migrant workers, who leave old parents and their children at home all year long, has made China's economic success story possible and sustainable. It is time to do something substantial for them, to cut their burden, make them accessible to basic insurance polices, and to give their kids better and easier education. China will not afford to have an "underclass" that runs counter to the lofty goal of building up a "harmonious society".