China says it's attempting to bridge rich-poor divide, promises "great renaissance"

(CBS News) The new President of China has closed the annual session of Parliament. He's promising what he calls a "great renaissance of the Chinese nation."

China, like the U.S., is struggling to bridge the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

China -- called "the communist workers' paradise" -- is freely admitting that in the economic boom it left its workers behind. So now, the new Chinese leadership team is promising what it calls a "new China dream."

New President Xi Jinping offers a "China dream"

In Beijing this weekend, the rich were checking how the convertible top on a Ferrari moved up and down. Three hours away in the mountains, corn husks move up and down the hillside -- on foot -- for the villagers to use as fuel.

Closing this divide between millionaire/billionaire China and the dollar-a-day China, is among the top priorities for the new leadership. Higher wages for the poor is a political promise so specific, it's the theme of a new national promotion headlined by a farmer who hopes to use the promised windfall to send his grandchildren to college.

Chinese workers have been promised the good life before -- but this is different. China's new President Xi Jinping has visited the poorest of villagers to promise improvements and, from him, it's personal. Jinping is the son of a rich party official, but when his father clashed with Mao himself, Jinping was banished to seven years hard farm labor. Zhang Xing Xiang was also on that farm, and remembers when the current president of China carried hundred-pound sacks of manure uphill.

"In winter we got up at sunrise," Zhang said, "carrying that manure to the farmland in the mountains. Xi knows exactly what the life is like in rural areas and what the life is like for farmers."

This focus on internal investment and even social justice is part of every of official pronouncement, including the first press conference with China's new Premier Li Keqiang. "It cannot be," Kequiang said, "that we have high-rises on one side and shantytowns on the other. This administration is determined to upgrade more than 10 million homes for the poor."

Kequiang also discussed the new relationship with the United States. He forcefully denied that the Chinese military is behind widespread hacking in America. He claimed that China is more often the victim of hacking, but he did suggest that the U.S. and China start discussing cyber security.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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