Wen Jiabao, China’s prime-minister, the number two position in the political hierarchy, opened the 2012 session of the country’s parliament on the 5th of March. The opening speech was long awaited in view of China’s crucial role in international economics and politics today and was followed closely by observers throughout the world.

With respect to 2011 achievements, Mr. Jiabao confirmed a growth of 9.2% of GDP in 2011, as well as increase of state revenue in 24.8%. A major success reported refers to the fact that rural income increased faster than urban for a second successive year, or 11.4% in real terms.

In the recent past, the Chinese government has been struggling with the necessity of integration of inhabitants of the rural areas of China into the formal economy, as well as to alleviate the harsh conditions prevalent in the areas utilized for agricultural production, mostly in the west and south of the country.

For 2012, Mr. Jiabao announced measures to encourage private consumption and to promote better healthcare services for the public at large. The standards of living of the Chinese people will continue to improve. Another initiative of macro-economic significance relates to the promised further development of the services’ sector.

Such measures will benefit not only the Chinese people, but will also offer opportunities for companies doing business with China, not only in services, in which sector greater liberalization is to be expected, but also in the provision of goods, merchandise and commodities for consumption in that country.

From the domestic perspective, it is hoped by the authorities that the announced policies will also contribute for the reduction of the income and standard of living discrepancies now found in China and that constitute a major worry for the Chinese government and frustration for many of the underprivileged population.

Mr. Jiabao forecasted a somewhat smaller economic GDP growth for 2012 at 7.5%, slightly less than that verified in 2011, but representing a fall not large enough to influence in an adverse manner the global economic performance or the international market prices of agricultural and mineral commodities.

The Chinese prime-minister, who has consistently presented a humane and caring image to the Chinese people, also expressed the commitment of his government to correct its deficiencies and shortcomings, as well as to combat corruption whilst improving governance.

With respect to foreign relations, Mr. Jiabao’s speech ensured that China would continue to make important contributions to global economic growth, world peace and stability. The Chinese government should be expected to continue to make efforts towards cooperation with the international community towards generalized prosperity.