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Passing on the Spirit of Reform from Generation to Generation

Submit Time:18-04-2018 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Gao Shangquan | Source:People's Daily (March 27, 2018)


The year of 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China embarking on the path of reform and opening up. Reform and opening up is the great practice made by the socialism with Chinese characteristics on the land of China. It went through such phases as goal setting, framework formation, institutional improvement and well-rounded enhancement, thus securing eye-catching achievements. As Comrade Xi Jinping pointed out sharply, "The era is the mother of thought; practice is the fount of theory," and "only with reform and opening can we develop China and realize the Chinese dream." Over the past four decades, especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China has made great breakthroughs and progresses in deepening its reform on all fronts, thus propelling the socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era. Under the guidance of Xin Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, as long as we can pass on the spirit of reform from generation to generation and keep pushing forward the reform practice, our reform and opening up undertaking will definitely go from one victory to another, and provide endless driving forces for the achievement of the two centenary goals and the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.  

New grounds were broken in giving market a clear position.  

The evolution of the Chinese reform and opening up practice could be seen as a process where planning as the uppermost method of resource allocation was gradually being replaced by market that plays the decisive role with the supplement of government regulation. In other words, it is also a process through which the socialist market economy came in place and got improved step by step. Over the 20-plus years since the 14th CPC National Congress, we have long explored and deepened our understanding of the relationship between government and market, with a view to placing it in a scientific position. At the 15th CPC National Congress, the relationship between the two was depicted as "allowing the market to play the basic role in resource allocation under the macro regulation of the government;" at the 16th CPC National Congress, it went as "playing the market's basic role in resource allocation to a larger extent;" at the 17th CPC National Congress, it was stated as "allowing the market to better play its basic role in resource allocation institutionally;" and at the 18th CPC National Congress, it was quoted as "we should leverage to a greater extent and in a wider scope the basic role of the market in allocating resources." A close look at the shift of the depiction awakens us to the fact that our Party's understanding of the relationship between government and market has gone deeper with each passing day. The Decision passed on the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee further outlined that "we need to ensure that the market plays the decisive role in allocating resources and make the government better play its role." The mentioning of "decisive role," as a milestone in the history of our reform and opening up and the course of development for socialist market economy, indicates that the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core has lifted its comprehension of the socialist market economy to a brand new realm. Besides, it also represents a major breakthrough our Party has made in comprehending the objective laws that govern the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The report to the 19th CPC National Congress reiterated that "the market plays the decisive role in resource allocation and the government better plays its role," and made well-rounded deployments to improve the socialist market economy systems at a faster pace.  

The supply-side structural reform secured noted progresses.  

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Chinese economy has been confronted with new environment and challenges. Internationally, the world economy was weak in recovery, trade protectionism resurged, and the global economic landscape underwent profound adjustments. Back in China, the increasingly growing prices of factors including land and labor, the ever-tightening restraints from resources and ecology, the imbalanced economic structure and the extensive development mode—all of these were becoming prominent day by day. In response to the ever-mounting pressures and challenges, the CPC Central Committee wasted no time and decided to launch the supply-side structural reform. With enormous courage and determination, the Chinese started to transform itself and pursue for higher level of development. At the same time, the five tasks of cutting overcapacity, destocking, deleveraging, reducing corporate costs and shoring up weak spots also achieved initial success. A deeper look at the situation says that the supply-side structural reform is aimed to further straighten out the relationship between government and market. Therefore, it involves the deeply-rooted problems that hold bank the reform of economic system, and also stands at the core of promoting structural overhaul. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, departments under the State Council canceled the requirement of or delegated the power for view on 618 items, canceled the requirement for review by local governments on 283 items, cut the number of business investment items subject to central government approval by nearly 90 percent, and replaced with post review or canceled 87 percent of items subject to preliminary review before industrial and commercial registration. The reform of "streamlining administration and delegating more powers, improving regulation, and providing better services" went deeper, invigorating the market remarkably. In the report to the 19th CPC National Congress, the supply-side structural reform was described as the main task of the efforts to build a modern economy, which gave the reform a new positioning and raised new requirements for it. As it moves on, the supply-side structural reform is improving the quality of the entire supply chain and helping the productivity realize another leap.  

State governance has become more capable of meeting the requirements for the development of economy and society.  

The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee set an overall goal for comprehensively deepening reform, that is, "to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and push on with modernization of the country's governing system and capabilities." The proposal of modernizing the country's governance system amounts to a big innovation China has made in its course of reform. It means efforts will be made to deepen reform on all fronts so that the superstructure can better cater to the needs of economic and social development. The Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform was recruited at the central level so as to make the reform decisions more efficiently, concentrate every bit of energy to get rid of various fetters, and propel reform efforts towards major progress one after another. The improvement in modernization of state governance can be remarkably felt through the development of the Chinese socialist democracy. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core has upheld the unity of Party leadership, the people running the country, and law-based governance. Through comprehensively deepening the reform, it has expanded the coverage of people's democracy, improved democratic institutions, diversify forms of democracy, and established more democratic channels. Besides, it has expanded the people's orderly political participation in every field, making the people's democracy more extensive, thorough and sophisticated, and doing full justice to the strengths of China's socialist political system. Some recent examples in this regard are given as below. In 2015, the General Office of the NPC Standing Committee released the Guidelines on Improving Special Inquiries, requiring that the State Council officials would be arranged to make special work reports to the NPC Standing Committee, and listen to the opinions on review and answer questions on the spot, thus propelling special inquiries toward normative, institutional and regular operations. In June 2015, the CPC Central Committee forwarded the Guideline of the Party Leadership Group of the NPC Standing Committee on Strengthening County/Township NPC Work and Development, coming up with a series of specific measures to cement the ties between NPC deputies and the masses and explore to introduce a deputy duty performance incentive mechanism, thus pointing out the directions for the county/township NPC building efforts. Also in 2015, the CPC Central Committee distributed the Opinions on Strengthening the Building of Socialist Consultative Democracy, through which it systemically explored the path for consultative democracy to develop from the perspective of top-level design. Thanks to these institutional developments and improvements, China saw its state governance system and governance capacity with modern approaches enhanced constantly.  

The anti-corruption and clean governance building achieved enormous results and law-based governance in all fields was advanced deeply.  

To create a sound environment necessary for economic and social development through comprehensively deepening the reform, we need to build a team of Party members and civil servants who perform their duties honestly, competently and efficiently. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee has investigated and prosecuted corruption cases resolutely, eliminated all sorts of latent rules that emerged over the past period of time, and rectify the places and fields prone to corruption. As a result, the entire Party and political circle take on a new look. Corrupt officials who abuse power and neglect duties in breach of Party disciplines and state laws, regardless of their ranks, shall be held accountable according to law. Exercising strict governance over the Party has secured a overwhelming victory against the anti-corruption fight. The anti-corruption campaigns eliminate vice and exalt virtue. Thanks to them, the Party gets its misconduct corrected, wins back people's trust, gives all members and cadres a profound lesson, and lays a sold foundation for the government to exercise its power normatively and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of market entities. While cracking down corruption, the CPC Central Committee worked hard to ensure every dimension of governance was law-based, so that the country could enjoy enduring peace and stability from the perspective of legal and institutional development. At the 4th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Several Important Issues of Comprehensively Advancing Rule of Law outlined that "the Party leads the people to enforce the Constitutions and other laws and it acts within the scope prescribed by the Constitution and other laws; the two aspects need to be unified to better make the Party's propositions into the will of the state through statutory procedures." This will contribute to the unification between the Party's propositions and the will of the people, and propel the law-based governance on all fronts into a new era.  

The reform of the system for developing an ecological civilization has contributed to the building of a beautiful China.  

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, building an ecological civilization has been included in the five-sphere integrated plan and treated as a strategically important aspect of governance. The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee offered a full account of the composition of the ecological civilization as well as the directions and priority tasks of the related reform. It can be seen as another major innovation in promoting the building of an ecological civilization. As stipulated by the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, rigid laws and institutions would be put in place to protect ecology and environment. Green development was included as part of the new guiding principles for development on the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. At the 19th CPC National Congress, building an ecological civilization was depicted as vital to sustain the Chinese nation's development. Such top-level designs about building an ecological civilization came out intensively, attesting to our Party's determination and action to follow the laws of development, live up to the people's expectation, and shoulder its due responsibilities. The Overall Plan for the Reform of Eco-civilization System was released in September 2015, outlining that eight important regimes would be established by 2020. The document is dubbed as the pivot of the reform if eco-civilization system. As Comrade Xi Jinping stressed, only the most stringent policies and law enforcement could provide the reliable guarantee for the building of an ecological civilization. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, a dozen of laws about ecological civilization have been amended. Now China is establishing the strictest ecological law regime at a speed faster than ever before. At the same time, the ongoing nationwide environmental inspection is shutting down a large number of polluting enterprises, and securing substantial progress in environmental governance. All these efforts constitute a perfect interpretation to our resolution in promoting the reform of eco-civilization system.  

Historic breakthroughs were made in the reform of the national defense and the military.  

A military only with the courage to pursue reform can remain invincible. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, our armed forces have promoted the reform with substantial achievements. The leadership and management regimes changed fundamentally, the joint battle command system broke new grounds, and the armed forces radically reshaped their scale, structure and ranks. The reform of combined service force system crossed critical thresholds. The reform of military universities, research institutes and training bases stepped forward solidly. The reform for military-civilian integrated development secured impressive progresses. On November 15, 2012, Comrade Xi Jinping presided over the first executive meeting of the newly-elected Central Military Commission. On the meeting, he pointed out that "we will always uphold the innovative spirit to forge ahead, push forward the military reform with Chinese characteristics, and work hard to hold the initiative in military competition." The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee that took place in November 2013 included the reform of the national defense and the military into the overall drive for deepening reform in all areas. Since then, the reform has been lifted as the will of the Party and the action of the state. This is also the first time for the Decision document concluded at a plenary session of the Party to devote a separate section to the reform of the national defense and the military since the birth of the Party. On July 22 and 29, 2015, Comrade Xi Jinping presided over an executive meeting of the Central Military Commission and a meeting of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee's Political Bureau, reviewing and approving the overall plan on deepening the reform of the national defense and the military. Since the drive to deepen the reform of the national defense and the military is quite complicated, it is necessary to find and start from the most important part. Comrade Xi Jinping pointed out that the first breakthrough in the reform could be made through getting rid of the institutions of favoring headquarters, large military regions, and big land forces. With the headquarters-based institution replaced by the multi-department-pronged institution, the commanding, construction, management, supervision and other aspects of the work will be made clearer, and such functions as decision-making, planning, execution and assessment will be allocated more reasonably, thus spotlighting the strategic planning and macro management functions. In this way, can military commission organs perform their commanding, execution and serving functions in a real sense. Besides, the Central Military Commission set up a joint battle command center, and put in place sound command organs on the both levels of the military commission and theaters of operations. As a result, a strategic battle command system that was composed of competent personnel capable of regular operations regardless peace time or wartime with clearly-cut division of duties came into being, reshaped the commanding framework of the people's army, and marked the reform of the joint battle command system had taken another critical step forward. At the same time, the land force leadership body, the rocket force, and the strategic support force were incorporated. The land force was scaled down remarkably to less than 50% of the total army forces. The original 18 army groups were cut down into 13, further optimizing the army structure. Looking into the future, the reform will score greater successes. Our dream for building a powerful military is bound to come true.  

(The author served as Deputy Director of the former State Commission for Restructuring the Economic System.)

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