SCIO briefing on government work report

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Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you, Mr. Guo. The floor is open for questions. Please identify your news outlet before asking question. Thank you.


This year's government work report points out from the very beginning that last year was an extraordinary year in the history of the People's Republic of China. It also states that the work last year was truly challenging. Given the achievements of last year, how do we best understand and define "extraordinary" and "challenging?" Thank you.

Guo Wei:

I think it is quite accurate to describe last year as extraordinary.

Last year, our tasks were extraordinary. We needed to achieve decisive success in eliminating absolute poverty and secure a full victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Last year, the difficulties and challenges we faced were exceptional. We encountered combined adverse and severe impacts rarely seen in a century. First, the sudden outbreak of the once-in-a-century COVID-19 epidemic posed a serious threat to people's health and brought unprecedented difficulties to economic and social development as well as all aspects of work. In the first quarter of last year, China's economy registered a negative growth rate of 6.8%, which hasn't been seen since the reform and opening up. Second, the world economy found itself deep in recession and for the first time in history, the economies of all regions were hit hard simultaneously. The global economy suffered the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s, which has directly affected the stability of foreign trade and the security of the industrial and supply chains in China. Third, the international landscape was complex and grave with many uncertainties. Economic globalization encountered headwinds and the impacts of unilateralism and protectionism were on the rise. In addition, some areas of our country suffered severe floods and typhoons.

Last year, the achievements in development that we secured were remarkable. Facing the severe and complex situation, the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, responded with tremendous tenacity and forged ahead with great resolve. We achieved major strategic success in the fight against COVID-19 and fully protected the health and safety of the people, creating fundamental guarantees and prerequisites for economic and social development. We took the lead in resuming work and production and were the first to achieve positive economic growth. At the same time, reforms in key areas and at key points were deepened, breakthroughs in opening up were made, people's livelihoods were effectively ensured, and 11.86 million new urban jobs were created. Society was harmonious and stable on the whole.

Last year, the goals we fulfilled were extraordinary in the historical development of the People's Republic of China. We attained a complete victory in the fight against poverty. All remaining poor rural residents were lifted from poverty, as were all of China's remaining poor counties, accomplishing the daunting task of eliminating absolute poverty that has existed in China for thousands of years. Our gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded the 100-trillion-yuan threshold, with the economic strength, composite national strength, and people's living standards reaching new levels. We made great progress in scientific and technological innovation. Our Chang'e-5 spacecraft successfully landed on the near side of the moon and brought back lunar samples. The new deep-sea manned submersible Fendouzhe (Striver) completed its 10,000-meter sea trials. Last year was a landmark year in many respects in the history of the People's Republic of China.

Last year, the efforts made by the Chinese people were also extraordinary. The COVID-19 pandemic broke out at the beginning of last year. You may recall that on the very day of the Lunar New Year, General Secretary Xi Jinping chaired a meeting to direct outbreak response. At that critical moment, more than 40,000 medical workers rushed to aid Wuhan in Hubei province, and manufacturers of masks, protective suits, and other medical supplies worked overtime to increase production. From medical staff to the People's Liberation Army, from scientific researchers to community workers, from volunteers to those who oversaw projects, people of all ages from all walks of life across China united to fight against the pandemic. Facing difficulties brought about by the economic downturn, the central government considerably reduced non-essential and non-obligatory expenditures and the provincial governments also cut spending to support those working on the ground as well as market entities. Many enterprises saw reduced profits but did their best not to cut jobs. Some employees who saw their salaries reduced stood together with the enterprises to tide over the difficulties. As the government work report reads, "Local authorities and government departments across the country kept in mind the big picture and shouldered their responsibilities. Market entities, over one hundred million in number, responded to shocks with fortitude and resilience. Our people worked hard and fought adversity in close solidarity and with the unyielding spirit of the Chinese nation."

It is fair to say that last year, the difficulties and challenges we faced were extraordinary, the achievements we secured were remarkable, the efforts we made were exceptional, and the success we gained was earned through resilience. The year 2020 is a year to remember in history. Thank you.

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