By Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan
In October, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was successfully held in Beijing. General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered a report on the work of the Political Bureau at the meeting. The plenary session deliberated and adopted the Proposal of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Formulating the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Term Goals for 2035 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Proposal’), the most important outcome of the meeting. The Proposal has been made by pooling the wisdom of the whole Party and condensing the consensus of the whole society. It marks a new phase of development for China.
As an important part of China’s national economic planning, five-year plans have been made and implemented since the 1950s. They contain plans for various economic and social development programmes and have been the most authoritative source of reference for all countries wishing to better understand China’s economic development trend. The Proposal as adopted will serve as an action guide for socio-economic development in China in the next five years and beyond and release strong signals to the world for jointly building a community of shared future for mankind. It is a fortissimo of the times for peaceful development and win-win cooperation.
The plenary session praised the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core for staying true to its original aspiration and keeping its mission firmly in mind, uniting and leading the entire Party and the people of all ethnic groups in striving to advance the cause of the Party and the country, making decisive achievements during the 13th five-year plan period towards a moderately well-off society and laying down a solid foundation for the new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way.
First, the economic strength of China has been steadily enhanced and its economic structure has been continuously optimized. Since 2016, the international situation has become more complex. Increased unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism have all created obstacles for China in economic development and foreign trade. In this context and with a belief in seeking progress while keeping performance stable, the CPC Central Committee has coordinated efforts to promote steady and rapid growth and focused on improving the economic structure in an all-round way. Over the past five years, the national economy has grown at an average annual rate of over 6.5%, about twice the world average. The economic structure has been continuously optimized and the GDP is expected to exceed USD 15 trillion in 2020.
Second, people’s livelihood and welfare have been improved at an accelerated pace and the results of poverty alleviation have attracted worldwide attention. During the 13th five-year plan period, setting the eyes on the most immediate and practical interests of the Chinese people, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, has channeled intensified efforts to enhance the quality of employment and people’s income, improve the public service system, develop and improve the social security system and rolled out targeted poverty alleviation, achieving good results in all fields. In 2019, per capita disposable income reached USD 4,648, an increase of 39.9% over 2015. Basic public services such as health care are accessible to the entire population, with basic medical insurance covering more than 1.3 billion people and basic endowment insurance covering nearly one billion. Over the past five years, the number of people living in poverty has decreased substantially. The per capita net income of registered poor households nationwide increased from USD 517 in 2015 to USD 1,484 in 2019, representing an average annual increase of 30.2%. From 2016 to 2019, more than 50 million poor people in rural areas were lifted out of poverty.
Third, the ecological environment has been visibly improved, further boosting the effort to build a beautiful China. During the 13th five-year plan period, China has unswervingly prioritized ecological and green development, resulting in historic changes in all aspects of ecological protection. Over the past five years, China’s carbon dioxide emission intensity has continued to decrease, 18.2% lower than that in 2015. In 2019, energy consumed for unit industrial added value by enterprises of scale dropped by more than 15% compared with that in 2015, equivalent to an energy conservation of 480 million tons of standard coal. At the general debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi announced that China aims to reach a peak in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, arousing strong international responses.
Fourth, the high-level opening-up has produced real results and the business environment is among the best in the world. President Xi said that business environment must be constantly improved, till good is better and better best. During the 13th five-year plan period, China has taken a series of major opening-up measures, amended and implemented the foreign investment law, shortened the negative list for admittance of foreign investment, created 21 pilot free trade zones and signed 17 free trade agreements with 25 countries and regions. These have greatly reduced market operating costs, created a stable, fair, transparent and predictable business environment and accelerated the building of a new open economic system.
Fifth, bearing in mind the people first concept, China has achieved major strategic results in responding to and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, the Proposal takes as its long-term goal more tangible and substantive progress towards common prosperity for all, which fully reflects the CPC’s belief in people supremacy and the people-centered actions. In the fight against COVID-19, the Party and the government have coordinated pandemic prevention and control with socio-economic development. With the top priority always placed on the safety and health of the people, the government pays for the medical expenses of all COVID-19 patients. The Chinese people are the most satisfied with the government’s pandemic response, according to a multinational survey conducted by an American polling agency.
During the 13th five-year plan period, in the face of the complicated international situation, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi at its core has devised science-based strategies and offered a strong leadership, which have led to a major strategic victory in the fight against COVID-19 while accomplishing the arduous tasks of domestic reform, development and stability. The Proposal has built on those remarkable achievements and outlined a systematic plan for economic and social development in the coming 14th five-year plan period. The message is clear-cut that China will continue pursuing peaceful development and win-win cooperation and join hands with other countries to develop a new model of international relations and a community of shared future for all mankind. The very informative and instructive document will greatly boost the confidence of the Chinese people and other countries in the world, especially developing ones like Afghanistan.
First, China will incentivize innovation and develop itself into a powerhouse of science and technology. It will further strengthen its strategic scientific and technological forces, master critical core technologies and enhance its global competitiveness. In recent years, some countries have gone all out to suppress Chinese companies such as Huawei and Tik Tok. In particular, various barriers have been set by and the power of the whole nation has been used to block the supply of the most critical chips to Chinese companies, impeding economic development and scientific and technological progress in China. In the new development era, China will increase its investments in research and development, enable its enterprises to engage in innovation, resolutely resist international bullying and further share development opportunities with other developing countries.
Second, China will focus on the development of the real economy and optimize the economic system. The real economy, as the main body of a country’s modern economic system, is the focus and foundation of its economic development. China has always attached great importance to maintaining a healthy and sustainable share of the real economy in the national economy, which is actually a magic weapon for it to tide over global economic crises. As the next step, China will unswervingly develop itself into a manufacturing power renowned for the high quality of its products, consolidate the foundation of the real economy, promote the optimization and upgrading of the entire industrial chain, steadily improve the quality, efficiency and core competitiveness of its economy, and strive to serve as the ballast stone for global economic development.
Third, China seeks to establish a new pattern of development based on the domestic market. Expanding domestic demand, cultivating a complete domestic circulation system and promoting connectivity between the domestic and international markets will be the fundamental strategy for China to shape international competitive advantages and realize sustainable economic development for some time to come. With a population of 1.4 billion and a per capita GDP of over USD 10,000, China is the world’s largest and most promising consumer market with an enormous room for growth. With a strong domestic market, China will be able to connect production, distribution, circulation and consumption seamlessly in an optimized supply structure. By upgrading the domestic market, it will be well positioned to provide a good market foundation for countries around the world to share broader market opportunities.
Fourth, China will pursue a high-level opening up and steer the whole world towards a general trend of win-win global cooperation. China is committed to opening up wider and deeper to the outside world, promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and jointly contributing to the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The principle of achieving common development through consultation, joint actions and shared benefits has been widely praised by the international community. By expanding two-way trade and investment, strengthening the security of BRI and promoting infrastructural connectivity with other countries, China will further advance the multilateral trade regime, promote international cooperation and achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.
The Chinese nation has always believed and maintained that all under heaven are of one family, that all people are my brothers and all things are my kinds, that all nations should live together peacefully and that all under heaven should pursue a great harmony. President Xi has repeatedly called for upholding the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order based on international law. He stressed on various occasions that China pursues an opening-up strategy featuring mutual benefit and win-win and would like to work with people of other countries to develop a community with a shared future for mankind. As the largest developing country in the world, it will not be possible for China to achieve its goal of socio-economic development and becoming a modern socialist country in an all-round way if there is not a stable international political and security situation, or if it fails to work hard or if it shuns the rest of the world in development. China stands ready to work closely with Afghanistan and other countries around the world to fight the pandemic, promote and improve a more just and equitable global economic governance system, and jointly facilitate high-quality development in BRI countries. With more and more mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation in all fields, China will usher in a happy and healthy future together with other countries in the world.