China's parliment ended a landmark two-week session today by giving the country a set of legal codes for the first time in 30 years and aiming the government's sights firmly on economic rather than political problems.
National People's Congress, with 3,312 delegates attending today in Peking appeared to further solidify the hold of a pragmatic leadership group by confirming the appointments of three veteran financial experts as vice premiers. The three, Chen Yun, Bo Yibo and Yao Yilin all appear to endorse the Western-oriented, steady-growth policy organized by Peking's most influential leader, Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping.
This second session of the 5th National People's Congress, the parliament's first major meeting in 16 months, will probably be remembered for its release of a flood of economic and financial statistics considered state secrets for the last 20 years. These include the 1978 national population [975,230,000 including Taiwan,] the 1979 budget [ $13 billion], the production of wristwatches [$13.5 million].
"It used to be checking over the annual economic figures release by the Chinese took two hours, now it may take two months," an American economist said.
The Congress' endorsement of a criminal procedure and regulations for more elections on local levels seemed designed to counter charges of civil tights abuses and lack of democracy under China's Communist Party rule.
The economic statistics were a signal to Western banks that China is willing to break its taboo on releasing infermation to get foreign loans. They also decided national attention toward the need to raise its modest production and budget figures.
Ye jianying, Congress standing committee chairman, told the delegates today that the announced three-year slowdown and readjustment of the economy requires that "we race against time, avoid detours and quicken the tempo of our modernization."
The Congress also approved a law on joint ventures with Chinese and foreign investment, considered a key element in China's growing effort to get foreign help in solving it severe shortage of cash to build its economy. Statements at the Congress about the law, which still has not been released indicate, however, that it sets only vague guidelines and that interested investors may have to wait until more detailed regulations are drawn up.
The addition of Chen, Bo and Yao to the list of Chinese vice premiers, now numbering 16, further reduces the influence of a handful of hold-overs from the era of the late chairman Mao Tse-tung.
The offical press had indicated that Deng and his financial planners had been under attack in recent months, particularly because of a rash of social disturbances and for purchasing too much equipment in the first rush of enthusiasm for foreign technology after ideological barriers were removed by the new government. But the three new vice premiers, like Deng, clearly opposed Mao's adherence to self-reliance and mas work projects.All suffered spells in political limbo before being returned to per after Mao's death.
Chen, 74, became the fifth-ranked leader in the party in December and reportedly led the effort to readjust the economy and drop unnecessary construction projects. He served as a vice premier and vice party chairman before Mao's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
Bo, 71, was minister of finance and a vice premier before the Cultural Revolution, in which he was sharply attacked and purged, Yao, 62, was commerce minister before the Cultural Revolution and was returned to that post later year, then moves to smoke key central party posts.