The wind finally arrived, on the eve before the opening of the annual top legislative session in Beijing, and cleared the heavy smog that had blanketed the capital for days.
Many officials breathed a sigh of relief, as a clear blue sky may not only make opening ceremony photos look good in media reports but also help reduce criticism from national legislators and political advisers about the government’s efforts to curb air pollution.
Starting this week, about 5,000 National People’s Congress deputies and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee are gathering in Beijing for the their annual plenary meetings, known as the “two sessions”— China’s biggest political event, which takes place annually.
During the two weeks, they will assess government work and discuss hot political, economic and social issues. Many of the opinions, or criticisms, could be harsh.
So a blue sky is important. And the most effective way at present to ensure that is a strong wind.
As a reporter who has covered the sessions for about 10 consecutive years, I can sense the gradually rising attention to air pollution. It is expected that the topic will remain hot at this year’s meetings, during which legislators will also review the draft outline of China’s 13th FiveYear Plan (201620), the country’s development blueprint for the coming half decade.
The draft outline, which was made public on Saturday, stipulates that China will continue to make major efforts in two important sectors where the country falls short—poverty and pollution.
It envisions lifting 70million people out of poverty by 2020 and reducing air pollution inmajor cities by 25 percent, measured by the number of heavily polluted days.Water pollution and soil pollution are also listed as major targets.
Tackling the two big issues is crucial for shoring up people’s sense of security. Poverty alleviation will ensure that no one need worry about survival, and pollution control will address concerns people have about toxic substances.
Many other points in the outline will have similar effects, such as those to facilitate the smooth integration of migrants in cities, the initiation of a “Healthy China” plan and the emphasis on the safety of grain and other food supplies.
A senior official who participated in drafting the plan told me that one of the core principles of the 13th Five-Year Plan is to share the fruits of the country’s development with the people so that the public can enjoy a better life and feel happier.
Some foreign observers have said that the Chinese do not feel happy, even when they are pretty well-off, because they lack a sense of security. We worry about too many things— the food we eat, the air we breathe, the job we might lose and the quality of education our children will receive.
However, if China can fulfill the goals in the draft 13th Five-Year Plan,most of which is closely related to people’s living standards, the public might feel much safer and happier.
At that time, we may not need to expect wind to help clear the sky, and environmental officials will be at ease during the two sessions.