Friday, September 12, 2008

CASS Report: Two challenges emerging in social harmony and stability

The State think tank, China Academy of Social Sciences Friday released a report entitled Research Report on China's Social Harmony and Stability , pointing out the complex relations between different interests groups and the outstanding social problems emerging with social progress remain the top two challenges facing China's government when it is bent on the construction of a harmonious and stable society. The report is the first ever academic report on harmonious society studies.

The report pointed that at the current stage China's society generally tend to be stable, with the various mainstream social relations basically staying in harmony. The report is based on an extensive data gathered from across China, spanning 28 provinces, 130 counties and townships, 520 villages and neighborhoods and 7,100 households.

Statistics indicated that 80 percent of interviewees agreed China's society is generally a harmonious one, and the problems, though striking, will be short-lived. 74.9 percent of them found the society 'very harmonious,' or 'basically harmonious.' Meanwhile, 96.5 percent of the survey recipients agreed stability is very critical to China at present.

Researchers explained in the report that with China's economic and social development standing at a crucial juncture, assorted social problems and clashes would come up, as the international experiences manifest. But, in light of the report, the Chinese people are generally holding sanguine views on the country's prospects of social and economic development, and 91.6 percent of the interviewees showed their complete confidence in the State administration and the government believing the problems will be sooner or later addressed in a proper way. 93.5 percent of people interviewed are convinced the next generation of theirs will be leading a much better-off life.

The report also pinpointed the thorny problems born from the process of social and economic development, clearly stating it is still unrealistic for different social groups to equally share the fruits of China's reforms and development, considering the disparities in people's capacities, opportunities and conditions seen in different social groups. The existing differences would cause a gap between different interests groups, and could even evolve into conflicts or crises in future.

The increasingly protrusive clash among all the emerging social contradictions is found in the relationship between the cadres, or civil servants, and the grassroots. Some assume that it is the sudden outburst of some potential conflicts brewed over time as a result of uneven distribution of interests among different groups. The survey conducted for the report also showed that 69.84 percent of interviewees think the cadres, or State civil servants, are the biggest beneficiaries of the social wealth, and following in sequence are people in show and entertainment circle with 53.71 percent of votes, private businesses owners with 52.13 percent of votes, managers of State-or collective-owned enterprises with 47.98 percent and professionals with 44.11 percent of votes respectively.

Additionally, 50.68 percent of people surveyed believed the gap between the rich and the poor act as the catalysis to the rift and conflict among different social groups. But many more recipients for the survey think it is unfair to rush the conclusion that people in lower income groups tend to hate the rich, saying in the interview what actually annoys them most is not who possess wealth, but the illicit channels some of the affluent guys use to accumulate their wealth, for example, achieving and enhancing personal gains through graft and embezzlement.

The report also cited the other ten outstanding problems endangering ordinary people's livelihood and social stability, which are listed as follows in order of their social influence: seeking medical treatment, employment and unemployment, polarization between the rich and the poor, official corruption and embezzlement, housing prices, social security, the gap between city and countryside and environmental pollution.

The report concluded that the social problems, though not forceful enough to block the social progress, could incite discontent among the general public toward social unfairness, and somehow pose a threat to social harmony and stability. The report thereby suggested that the fight against official corruption and embezzlement be tightened up, and the distributions of income be standardized with the implementation of feasible policies like enhancing the farmers' income and employment in non-farming industries, and enlarging the residents' property income.

By People's Daily Online

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