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Delegate to Communist Party Congress Dreaming of Private Car, Laptop

Long Feifeng's dream of owning a car in which she surfs the Internet via a laptop with wireless connection has not been realized, but at least she can get access to broadband Internet with a desktop.

Long, 29, a delegate to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), uses the computer to communicate with the outside world from her hometown in the remote mountains in central China's Hunan Province.

When she attended the 16th Party congress five years ago, she was startled by the prosperity in Beijing -- she had never been out of Hunan and never been traveled by plane. Seeing the modern things in the Chinese capital, she had dreamed of her private car and laptop.

"It is not a dream for people in many Chinese cities, but is almost unreachable for us," she said. In her hometown of Jianghua County, per capita annual income was only US$180 in 2006, much lower than the national level.

Nationwide, the urban-rural wealth gap in China hit 3.3:1 last year, compared with the international average of 1.8:1.

"There remains an imbalance in development between urban and rural areas, among regions, and between the economy and society," Hu Jintao said Monday in his speech at the start of the CPC congress.

There was only one telephone set five years ago in the whole Liangchahe Town where she used to work. There was no access to mobile phone or cable TV. Now, people there are enjoying these services.

"Local people were eager to become well off while the national economy is developing so fast," said Long Feifeng, a major official of the county's Communist Party Committee.

Now more and more local people are engaged in the industries involving paper making, cement, timber processing and mining since the county has such resources.

The income of farmers in the county recorded a double-digit increase last year. "I believe I will have my own car and laptop in 15 years if the county continues to develop at the speed," Long said.

From 2002 to 2006, the per capita income of Chinese farmers rose with an annual average of 6.2 percent. For the first time since 1985, the growth rate exceeded 6 percent for three straight years.

China's drive of reform and opening-up launched in 1978 is acclaimed as the largest poverty reduction campaign in the world, particularly in reducing its rural population in abject poverty.

Statistics show that in 1978 China had 250 million extremely poor people in its countryside, or 30.7 percent of then total rural population. The number has dropped to about 20 million.

The 17th CPC National Congress will map out the country's development strategy for the years to come, and more investment in poverty-stricken areas can be expected, Long said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2007)

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