The National Fitness Programme, a gigantic sports project to span two centuries, was launched by the National Conference of Directors of Sports Commissions which took place in Beijing in April 1994. The Programme was put forward after more than a year's preparatory work, during which time several drafts had been made and revised by experts over and over again.
It is common knowledge that a country's scientific and technological advance, economic prosperity and social progress, in the final analysis, depends on the improvement of the moral, cultural and physical qualities of its people. In the past, many Chinese people tended to ignore the importance of a nation's physical qualities, which they now understand are the material base of its moral and cultural qualities. The people's fitness and their physical wellbeing are important hallmarks indicating the overall strength of a nation, and the people's improved fitness will serve as an infrastructure for socialist material, cultural and ideological progress. To keep pace with the steady advance of socialist modernization in China, and to realize the goals of attaining a comfortable standard of living and of catching up with or surpassing the standards of moderately developed countries by the middle of the 21st century, it is high time for us to place on our agenda the issue of bringing about all-round improvement in our national qualities, including physical qualities.
The stipulation contained in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China that "the state develops physical culture and promote mass sports activities to build up the people's physique" serves as the guideline for sports development in this country, and has defined the basic task of sports as energetically promoting sports for all so as to improve the fitness level of the whole nation. The formulation and implementation of the National Fitness Programme embody the efforts of the Chinese government to safeguard the rights of all citizens to take part in sporting activities, as well as is earnestness to work for the people's welfare.
Taken as a whole, sports in China have shown signs of rapid progress in recent years. This is a fact for all to see. On close examination, however, we can see that our mass sports, which have so much to do with our national fitness level, are not so well developed as our competitive sports which are geared to the Olympic Games. We have won many gold medals at major international sports competitions, yet these achievements , of which we are so proud of, may turn out a flash in the pan unless we have an enormous reservoir of athletic talents to draw from. As a matter of fact, a nation rich in gold medals does not always mean that it is a sports power in the full sense of the word. What's more important is to make the public more sports-conscious and get more people to take active part in various kinds of physical exercises. To this end, it is necessary for the whole of society to invest more money in improving mass sports facilities. Only when a well-coordinated development of both mass sports and competitive sports is achieved will China truly become a sports power -- like an eagle with two powerful wings that will enable it to soar high into the sky.