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Making New Accomplishments in Pursuing High-quality Development in the New Era

Submit Time:10-05-2018 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Huang Shouhong | Source:People's Daily (April 02, 2018)


The just-concluded First Session of the 13th National People's Congress of China deliberated and adopted the Report on the Work of the Government (hereinafter referred to as "the Report" for short) made by Premier Li Keqiang on behalf of the State Council. The Report fully implements Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the guiding principles of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China ("CPC" or "the Party"), and major decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. On this basis, it offers a systematic review of the work in the past five years, explicitly proposes the overall requirements, policy orientation and major tasks for economic and social development in 2018. So it is a framework document for the Chinese government to get its work done properly this year.  

China has secured great achievements that make its people proud and amaze the entire world in the past five years.  

The past five years have been a truly remarkable five years in the course of China's development. Many contradictions at home and abroad were closely interwoven together, and various risks and challenges emerged one after another, many of which had never occurred since the reform and opening-up. Facing such a complex environment, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has rallied and led the Chinese people from all walks of life to forge ahead. As a result, we have made historic achievements and seen historic changes in our economic and social development.  

Over the past five years, economic strength has reached a new high. China's gross domestic product (GDP) has risen from 54 trillion to 82.7 trillion yuan, registering an accumulative actual growth of 40%; and its share in the global economy has grown from 11.4% to roughly 15%. China's contribution to global growth has exceeded 30%. Government revenue has increased from 11.7 trillion to 17.3 trillion yuan, up by nearly 48%. The structure of the Chinese economy has seen a major transformation. With the share of the service sector rising from 45.3% to 51.6% of the economy, consumption's contribution to growth has increased from 54.9% to 58.8%. Economic growth, mainly driven by investment and exports in the past, is now being fueled by consumption, investment, and exports. Unlike its major dependence on secondary industry in the past, growth is now powered by a combination of the primary, secondary, and tertiary industries. Innovation-driven development has yielded fruitful outcomes. China has seen a stream of major outcomes of innovation, its new technologies, new products, new industries and new forms of business have grown fast, and the ranking of its innovation index has moved upward substantially worldwide. Significant headway has been made in reform and opening-up. Overall reform framework has been put in place in major fields. The Belt and Road Initiative has been making major progress. The composition of both Chinese foreign trade and foreign investment in China has been improved, with volumes ranking among the largest in the world. Living standards of the Chinese people have constantly improving. More than 68 million people have been lifted out of poverty; the poverty headcount ratio has dropped from 10.2% to 3.1%; new urban jobs have managed to exceed 13 million for five consecutive years, and the jobless rate has remained at a fairly low level; personal income has increased by an annual average of 7.4%, outpacing economic growth and creating the world's largest middle-income group, of which the income of rural residents grew at a pace faster than that of urban residents; CPI has registered an annual growth rate of 1.9%, approaching the ideal 2% level that is well recognized by the international community; the country has formed the largest social security net in the world; the efforts to rebuild house units in rundown areas and dilapidated houses have help more than 100 million Chinese move into new homes. The environment has seen gradual improvement. Both energy and water consumption per unit of GDP have fallen more than 20%, and the release of major pollutants has been consistently declining. In the past five years, China has secured ground-breaking achievements on every front and seen the profound and fundamental changes, all of these have written down a memorable chapter in the history of the Chinese development. The Chinese economy has been the envy of the world in creating miracles of development.  

Facing the extremely complex environment at home and abroad, China has secured so great accomplishments in the past five years, which speaks volumes for the incomparable leadership, creativity and appeal of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the strong power of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and the fact that China's steps for development cannot be held back by any hardship or setbacks.  

While pursuing further development, the Chinese people, guided by the decisions and deployments made by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, have acted on new philosophy of development thoroughly, and never ceased to arouse vitality, add momentum and unleash potential. Firstly, with a commitment to the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, we have focused on developing new and better approaches to macro regulation. Confronted with the anemic world economy recovery and the mounting downward pressure on the domestic economy, we have refrained from resorting to a traditional path of extensive development or a deluge of strong stimulus policies. Instead, we have adapted to, addressed, and steered the new normal in economic development, taken steps to solve structural contradictions and aggregate problems, and developed the ways to range-based regulation with a view to realizing the targeted, well-timed and precision regulation. We have pursued a proactive fiscal policy. The increased financial deficits were mainly used to cut down taxes and fees. In the past five years, our market entities have seen savings of more than 3 trillion yuan. Monetary policy has remained prudent and neutral. It stressed the support for real economy and also prevented the excessively sufficient currency supply from causing negative consequences. With these arduous efforts, the Chinese economy has got stabilized and taken on a good state with growth, quality, structural improvement, and performance, each reinforcing the other. Secondly, with a commitment to treating supply-side structural reform as our main task, we have focused on speeding up economic structural upgrading. While advancing the structural adjustment by the reform, we have worked quite hard to remove inefficient supply, foster new drivers of growth and cut down corporate costs. Solid work has moved forward in the five priority tasks of cutting overcapacity, reducing excess inventory, deleveraging, lowering costs, and strengthening areas of weakness. The implementation of the Internet Plus Initiative and the Made in China 2025 Initiative has been aimed to foster and expand emerging industries and transform and upgrade the traditional industries. Reforms to streamline administration and delegate powers, improve regulation and optimize services have lowered down government-imposed transaction costs and costs of production and operation. Thirdly, with a commitment to reform and opening-up and innovation, we have focused on unlocking market vigor and public creativity. The endeavors to deepen reform across the board have helped us remove institutional barriers thoroughly. Business startups and innovation are thriving all over the country, and the number of various market entities grew by over 70% in the past five years. We have quickened our pace in building a new open economic system, and steadfastly implemented the strategy of innovation driving growth. Thanks to the coordinated regional development and new urbanization strategies, the new growth poles and belts are developing faster. Fourthly, with a commitment to a people-centered development philosophy, we have endeavored to ensure and improve living standards of the people. We have made comprehensive moves in targeted poverty reduction and alleviation, vigorously created new jobs, promoted the development of education, culture, health, sports, social securities and other public undertakings with an aim to equalize access to basic public services, and worked harder to address environmental pollution while endeavoring to provide quality ecological products.  

China pursues high-quality development in the new era with a commitment to reform and innovation.  

After a comprehensive analysis of how things stand at home and abroad, the Report sets the major projected targets for development this year in the light of actual needs and conditions. These targets remain the same as those raised last year, except some fine adjustments as appropriate. GDP growth for 2018 is set around 6.5%, which is on par with last year. Such a target reflects the direction for high-quality development and also takes into consideration the need to wrap up the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This year, the surveyed urban unemployment rate is used as a projected target for the first time; this is because the indicator covers rural migrant workers and other permanent urban residents, and can give a fuller picture of employment.  

The year of 2018 is a crucial year for the development course of the country and Party. To get the work done properly this year, China must do the following: earnestly follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; remain committed to the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability; continue to propose new and better approaches to macro regulation and maintain the continuity and consistency of macro policies; pursue the proactive fiscal policy that can concentrate efforts and increase efficiency and the prudent monetary policy that remains neutral, with easing or tightening only as appropriate; better coordinate various policies to ensure the economy performs within a reasonable range and propel the economic structure toward optimization and upgrading; and be bolder in reform and opening-up to generate more outcomes from high-quality development in the new era.  

1. Stepping up supply-side structural reform  

We will create big, strong industrial clusters in emerging industries, renovate and upgrade traditional industries at a faster pace, and make sure new drivers can grow faster, better and stronger. We will speed up work to build China into a leader in manufacturing, promote the development of advanced manufacturing sectors, take steps in all sectors to improve quality, and ignite a revolution in the quality of Chinese-made goods. With a commitment to using approaches consistent with market principles and the rule of law, we will ease overcapacity and close down outdated production facilities. Centering on improving the business environment and easing the difficulty confronting the public for accessing government services, we will deepen the reforms designed to delegate powers, improve regulation, and optimize services. We will further lighten the tax burden on businesses. Over the year, the related efforts aim to reduce taxes on businesses and individuals by more than 800 billion yuan and lighten the non-tax burden on market entities by over 300 billion yuan.  

2. Moving faster to make China a country of innovators  

We will improve national innovation systems, by strengthening basic research and application-oriented basic research and original innovation and converting innovative results into commercial use faster. At the heart of the efforts to promote scientific and technological innovation stands the initiative of scientific and technological personnel. Therefore, all outdated rules and regulations that sap the inspiration for innovation will be modified or abolished without delay, and all red tape that strangles efforts to unlock innovation will be eliminated. We will see the nationwide business startup and innovation drive is taken to the next level. By fully unleashing the potential of various innovators, China will break into a sprint in innovation.  

3. Deepening reforms in fundamental and key areas  

To strengthen, expand and increase returns on state capital, we will move forward with the improvement and restructuring of state-owned businesses (SOBs) and the joint-stock reform of central government enterprises. We will support the development of private enterprises and take firm action to remove hidden barriers. We will improve property rights system and mechanisms for market-allocation of the factors of production, in order to see that property rights are protected, contracts are honored, the market is unified, exchanges are equal, and competition is fair. We will continue structural fiscal and tax reforms, define the respective fiscal powers and expenditure responsibilities of central and local government reasonably, improve local tax systems, and reform the personal income tax. The endeavors to deepen the reform in the financial sector will focus on better serving real economy and especially solving the problem of small and micro enterprises finding it tough and expensive to access financing. We will advance institutional social reforms, and build a more robust system for developing an ecological civilization.  

4. Fighting three critical battles  

Firstly, we will strive for notable progress in forestalling and defusing major risks. To guard against financial risks, there will be a serious crackdown on activities that violate the law. Debt-to-equity swaps and business acquisitions and reorganizations shall be conducted in a way consistent with market principles and the rule of law, and will be accelerated, for the purpose of strengthening financial supervision. We will forestall and defuse local government debt risks, expect local governments to fulfill their primary responsibility in this respect, take active, prudent steps to deal with outstanding debts, and improve the standard mechanisms for local governments to secure financing. Secondly, we will step up targeted poverty alleviation. This year, we will further reduce the poor rural population by over 10 million, support areas affected by extreme poverty with targeted efforts, and provide specific poor population groups with assistance as they actually need. Thirdly, we will work to make greater progress in addressing pollution. We will consolidate the gains made in the fight to defend the blue of our skies, continue efforts to prevent and control water and soil pollution, and redouble endeavors to protect and restore ecosystems.  

5. Making strong moves in the rural revitalization strategy  

With plans well designed, we will advance supply-side structural reform in agriculture, step up efforts to adjust agricultural structure, cultivate new types of agribusiness, and encourage the primary, secondary and tertiary industries to develop in an integrated way in rural areas. We will deepen all rural reforms, implement the policy extending second round rural land contracts by another 30 years upon their expiration, and experiment with separating the ownership rights, qualification rights and use rights for rural land designated for housing. We will promote the full development of all programs in rural areas, and introduce sound rural areas-targeted governance systems. 

6. Making solid progress in the coordinated regional development strategy  

While focusing on a new landscape in regional development, we will step up support for old revolutionary base areas, areas with large ethnic minority population, border areas, and poor areas, move forward with the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the development of Yangtze Economic Belt, the large-scale development in the western region, the revitalization of northeast China, the rise of the central region, and the spearheading development of the eastern region, and roll out and implement the development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Satisfying the needs of the people is what new urbanization is all about. Around this point, the Report makes deployments for enhancing the quality of new urbanization. This year, another 13 million people will be registered as permanent urban residents. We will prioritize the development of public transportation, improve local amenities like food markets and parking facilities, take planned steps to rebuild villages in cities and old residential areas, and provide services that are attentive to detail and exercise management that puts people first.  

7. Actively increasing consumption and promoting effective investment  

Expansion of domestic consumption is the base of China's development strategy. We will strengthen the fundamental role of consumption in driving economic growth, create a better consuming environment, develop new forms and models of consumption, and support private actors in providing more services. We will enable investment to play the pivotal role in improving the supply structure, implement policies and measures designed to encourage private investment, and create a stable, open and fair investment environment.  

8. Making a new landscape in all-around opening up  

We will focus on the Belt and Road Initiative, increase industrial capacity cooperation with other countries, and expand opening-up in the western region, inland areas, and border areas. While promoting a steady growth in foreign investment, we will foster a world-class business environment, ease control over market access substantially, and promote foreign investment facilitation. To maintain the stable rise in foreign trade, the Report proposes to vigorously expand exports and imports at the same time. As the Report emphasizes, China calls for trade disputes to be settled through discussion as equals, opposes trade protectionism, and will resolutely safeguard its lawful rights.  

9. Doing more to ensure and improving people's wellbeing  

Laser-focused on the issues that most affect and worry the Chinese people, the Report offers an array of major measures aiming to ensuring and improving people's wellbeing. We will focus on boosting employment and business startups, and get the employment work relating to college graduates and other key groups done properly. Measures aimed to increase people's incomes come in place from perspectives of income increase and burden reduction, among which some are designed to benefit all and others are targeted at special groups. When it comes to developing fair, high-quality education, we will weight funding for education toward poor areas and weak links, reduce the rural drop-out rate, put an end to big class sizes in urban schools, and give attention to addressing the problem of heavy extracurricular burdens on primary and secondary school students, and raise requirements for increasing the supply of preschool educational resources and optimizing the structure of higher education. While implementing the Healthy China strategy, we will attach equal attention to disease prevention and treatment by raising the basic medical insurance and serious disease insurance benefits, promote tiered medical diagnosis and treatment and family doctor contracted services, develop new ways of conducting food and drug oversight, and carry out the Fitness-for-All programs. We will better address people's housing needs, and speed up the establishment of a housing system with multiple types of suppliers, multiple channels for housing support, and encouragement for both renting and purchase. Besides, the Report also strengthens efforts to meet people's basic living needs, and develop a new model of social governance based on collaboration, co-governance and common gains.  

(Affiliation of the author: the Research Office of the State Council)

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