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Fairness must not come at cost of growth

Global Times (2013-10-25 P14)
By Global Times

Development is of overriding importance. This is the famous quote from former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, which is also one of the teachings he left for Chinese society. This quote, together with an image of Deng, can be seen at one crossing in Shenzhen. The memories the sign brings to people about that era are much more profound than those brought by skyscrapers.

This statement represents a belief. It can be viewed as Deng's summary of how China should be governed and how it can carry out reforms after his own experiences. These few words have changed China.

However, this statement is rarely heard in current society, especially on the Internet. "Fairness" has replaced "development" as the dominant word in China's opinion sphere. Words that relate to development such as GDP have even taken on a negative meaning.

Times are changing. China's GDP per capita has risen to over $6,000 from just a few decades ago. Changes in economic foundations always bring about changes in ideology. This argument is pretty accurate.

The pursuit of fairness has been pounding China like a storm. In Chinese society, where populism has deep-rooted foundations, the appeal of "fairness" is incomparable and has strong moral backing. Both leftists and rightists have called for fairness, while the government and big State-owned companies represent the contrary.

Unfair distribution has become a serious problem in Chinese society. This is why absolute egalitarianism has re-emerged. The wish for an ideal fairness has taken deep root in people's minds. It will become vocal and put pressure on political governance.

China used to make "fairness" its top priority. People's understanding of fairness should become more mature and rational.

China was a fair country before. Today's young people may have no idea that before the reform started in the late 1970s, all Chinese had basically the same living standards and earned the same amount of money. The reform started by encouraging some people to become rich first. At that time, Chinese resented egalitarianism a great deal.

Over the years, China has developed at an amazing speed. Even foreign capitalists admire our efficiency. But at the same time, fairness has been lost, and China's development seems out of balance. Today, we are stressing fairness, but this does not necessarily mean we will repeat the past. We need to know that fairness in reality matches with social development. China needs to walk toward a "fairness" defined by a rich society rather than by a poor one. "Development is of overriding importance" should continue to be our motto.

Besides the official guiding principles for "efficiency" and "fairness," the motto deserves special respect from Chinese society. It should go beyond all ideological debates and become the benchmark to weigh what benefits the country and its people most.

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