A glorious five-year journey

By Wu Sike
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Today, October 13, 2017
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The past five years since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have been extraordinary under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core. In my view, the last five years have witnessed a momentous journey in China's development. Substantial advances have been made in various programs. Faced with everchanging, complex situations at home and abroad, China has maintained medium-high growth and perfected its policy framework since it put new economic trends into perspective.

The Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone, one of China's seven newly approved free trade zones, starts operation on April 1, 2017.

Furthermore, the country has made new progress in opening-up and international cooperation. Putting forward new ideas on global governance and several important initiatives, China's influence in the global community keeps rising. Today, the country is poised at a new starting point to achieve greater progress.

Extraordinary Fulfillment

On the basis of the progress China has made in the past six decades, the CPC leadership with Xi at its core analyzed the present economic situation and assessed that China has entered a new normal stage. Pragmatic measures have been implemented to adjust the high growth rate to medium-high, and optimize economic structure whereby innovation-driven development is greatly encouraged. The policy framework guided by the new development philosophy has taken shape, its focus on supply-side structural reform.

The new development philosophy encompasses the five major concepts – innovation, coordination, green development, opening up, and sharing benefits – that were proposed at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in 2015. Sticking to these concepts, the supply-side structural reform is meant to promote the quality and efficiency of the supply system and spur sustainable economic growth.

In the meantime, China adheres to the basic principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability. Besides securing stable economic growth, the government also boosts employment, stabilizes prices and improves the balance in international payments. New breakthroughs have been made in such fields as economic restructure, transformations of development modes, and stimulation of new driving forces for the economy.

In the past five years, employment and prices have remained stable. From 2013 to 2016, more than 13 million new urban jobs were created on a yearly basis, and urban unemployment in 31 large cities stayed at around five percent. During that same time period, consumer prices rose at an annual average of just two percent, while inflation was maintained at two percent and unemployment at five percent.

Between 2013 and 2016, China's GDP grew at an average of 7.2 percent each year, surpassing the global average of 2.5 percent and that of developing economies of four percent. In addition, aggregate national strength significantly improved. In 2016, China's GDP stood at RMB 74 trillion – a 1.32-fold increase compared with that of 2012 in constant prices. Revenue in the general public budgets reached nearly RMB 16 trillion, a 1.36-fold increase over 2012. With its GDP equal to US $11.2 trillion in 2016, China represented around 15 percent of the global economic aggregation – over three percentage points higher than 2012 – securing its status as the world's second largest economy.

From 2013 to 2016, China contributed, on average, more than 30 percent to global growth, overtaking the sum total of the U.S., Eurozone, and Japan to rank the world No. 1. Thus, China remains a powerhouse for global growth and an anchor that helps stabilize the world's economy.

All these achievements have proven that since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee has properly mastered the development trends of China and the world. The five major development concepts have been implemented in a holistic way in a bid to advance society and economy towards betterment, higher efficiency, more fairness and greater sustainability.

Furthermore, an expanded in-depth reform agenda has been pursued, with breakthroughs made in multiple sectors, and reforms deepened. The rule of law has also been advancing, and the capability of using legal methods in national governance significantly enhanced. Meanwhile, China advocates promoting ecological progress and pushes forward the Beautiful China initiative. It endeavors to make society fairer so that the fruits of development will be shared by all while making more efforts towards poverty reduction in rural areas to fulfill its commitment to uplift the remaining poverty-stricken population out of poverty by 2020.

Rising Status and Influence

In the foreign relations sector, new ideas and strategies have been proposed since the 18th CPC National Congress. Peace and development are the key themes of this era, with concepts and measures calling for building a community with a shared future for humankind and establishing a new paradigm of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. On top of that, China has put forward the Belt and Road Initiative and pursued partnership with its neighbors and other developing countries based on friendship, good faith, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.

The football field constructed with the aid of Chinese peacekeepers on a UN mission in Mali is inaugurated on October 29, 2015.

These philosophies are not only meaningful for the country's progress alone, but also contribute Chinese experience to tackling the deficits in peace, development, and governance that have posed grave challenges to all humanity. Therefore, China's visions have been widely acclaimed by the international community.

China strives to practice new security concepts and maintain a durable world peace. Resolving wars and conflicts and pursuing lasting peace has always been the goal of humankind. On various occasions in the past five years, China has called for fostering the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security which concurs with the trend of globalization, peaceful development and win-win cooperation.

From the historical perspective, human society is undergoing great development, profound changes and major adjustments. Countries are now increasingly interconnected and interdependent while people around the globe share a common destiny. Nevertheless, the Cold War mentality and power politics still plague today's world. In addition to wars, non-traditional security challenges including terrorism, refugee crises and climate change are spreading across the globe.

Oriented towards new security concepts, China has exerted a positive influence on regional and international security issues and taken on its duty as a responsible major country. For instance, China has proposed a "dual-track" approach aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other. Specifically, China calls for the suspension of nuclear and missile activities by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the suspension of large-scale military exercises by the U.S. and the Republic of Korea.

As regards the Middle East issue, China firmly advocates settling hotspot issues through peaceful means such as dialogue and consultation, and suggests finding solutions in development. China put forward a four-point proposal to solve the Palestine-Israel issue in a bid to promote peace and stability in the region.

On the issue of the South China Sea, China again advocates a "dual-track" approach and believes that disputes should be addressed between countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation, and that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should work together to promote stability in the South China Sea.

Moreover, China upholds the principles of peace, sovereignty, shared global governance and mutual benefits in non-traditional security issues. Domains including the deep sea, the polar regions, outer space and cyberspace should be explored as new platforms for cooperation rather than arenas for maneuvering. Unlike the zero-sum game or "winner takes all" approaches prevailing in Western countries, the new thinking on security is based on the principles of equality, mutual benefits, peaceful coexistence, and embodying a perfect combination of traditional Chinese philosophy and the spirit of the modern era.

Contribution to the World

China endorses facilitating global economic recovery and progress through equitable, open, well-rounded, and innovation-driven development. President Xi once noted that in the face of many challenges and difficulties, the world must focus on the key issue – development – stressing that only development can eliminate the root cause of conflicts, protect the basic rights of the people, and fulfill the people's wishes for a better life.

Based on the experiences gleaned from China's reform and opening-up policy, the five major development concepts are expected to provide solutions to problems confronting the world and showcase the Chinese vision which focuses on long-term goals.

China's permanent representative to the UN Liu Jieyi votes at a UN Security Council meeting, so enacting China's proactive role on the world stage.

The country's openness to the world has been constantly expanding and intensifying. Overseas companies' entry to China has been further facilitated, while the nation's inflow of overseas investment has been among the world's top three for five consecutive years.

Meanwhile, investment in foreign markets by domestic enterprises has been improving. Policies have been launched to smooth the way for investment abroad, and mechanisms to guard against investment risks have been improved as well. China has always been a major trading nation in goods and services. What's more, its 11 pilot free trade zones have been playing an important role.

Featuring a global perspective and a sincere hope for mutual benefit, the innovative ideas that China adopts are expected to build more political consensus in the world, enhance resource market integration, as well as promote people-to-people exchanges.

Other than providing potential development paths for developing countries, these new philosophies are also instructive for developed countries. The Belt and Road Initiative, in particular, sets its sights on building an open platform for cooperation, providing new public goods to the international community and unleashing the growth potential of various countries. Having injected strong impetus into global development, the initiative strives to achieve economic integration, interconnected development and deliver benefits to all.

Since it was first raised by President Xi in 2013, the initiative, which calls for extensive consultation, joint contributions and shared benefits, has been translated from planning to implementation and from vision to action. Over 100 countries and international organizations have given warm response and support to the initiative. A good number of flagship projects, including industrial parks and ports, have been launched. The Silk Road Fund has made US $4 billion of investments. Additionally, people-to-people cooperation projects such as the Silk Road culture year and tourism year are flourishing. The past years have seen strengthened connectivity on policy, infrastructure, trade and finance and people-to-people exchanges.

Last May, China successfully hosted the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, where 29 heads of state or government and more than 1,600 representatives from over 100 countries and regions discussed ways of boosting cooperation and development. The forum has delivered fruitful outcomes and provided a roadmap for further implementation of the initiative. As the first international, authoritative, and systematic political document about the initiative, the Joint Communiqué of the Leaders' Roundtable of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation further identifies directions for future cooperation. In the meantime, policies have been better integrated among participating countries and international organizations. A number of cooperation agreements have been signed, pointing out the areas and methods applicable to key projects. The list of major deliverables of the forum, which includes more than 270 concrete results, has enhanced confidence in promoting cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative connects Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, Oceania and beyond in seeking shared prosperity.

Advocacy of a more just and equitable international order highlights China's diplomatic thoughts. Confronted with rising global challenges, improving global governance and promoting reform of global governance systems has become the prevailing trend. Rooted in equality of sovereignty, equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal rules for all countries, the principles of extensive consultation, joint contributions, and shared benefits constitute essential facets of the new concepts and new strategies of China's diplomacy. In his speech at the UN Office in Geneva last January, President Xi Jinping elaborated on the idea of a community of shared future for humankind. He further called for staying committed to building a world of lasting peace, common security, common prosperity, inclusiveness, and beauty through dialogue and consultation, joint efforts, win-win cooperation, mutual learning and low-carbon development. He also pointed out that China is ready to work with all the other UN member states as well as international organizations and agencies to advance the great cause of establishing a community of shared future for humankind.

Over the years, China has proactively set up a diversified network of development partnerships and discussed ways to facilitate peaceful development with its global partners. It is believed that nations can become partners when they have the same values and ideals, but they can also be partners if they seek common ground while respecting their differences. China spares no efforts in achieving win-win cooperation based on the principle of forging partnerships of dialogue without confrontation but through friendship rather than alliance. Its circle of friends has been expanding. Up to now, China has formed partnerships of various kinds with 95 countries and international organizations. Adhering to justice and friendship, China is always a sincere and reliable friend of other developing countries and is willing to realize common development with its counterparts. Instead of simply offering help, China shares its development experience with the world and provides technical assistance and training programs to other developing countries.

The achievements made in the past five years have proven the vibrancy of socialism in China. Effective means for developing countries to embrace modernization have been worked out.

The 19th CPC National Congress to be held on October 18 is immensely important at a time when the country is undergoing the decisive stage of finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and speeding up socialist modernization.

Chinese people are confident about realizing the Chinese Dream of great rejuvenation of the nation through unwavering implementation of new thoughts and strategies regarding governance that have taken shape since the 18th CPC National Congress. More great achievements in China's reform and development will be made. Social and economic development will meet people's expectations, including better education, steadier employment, more stable incomes, dependable social welfare, better medical care, improved housing conditions, a cleaner natural environment, and a more vibrant culture, to name but a few. On the other hand, China's progress and openness will generate more opportunities for the world while providing more solutions through Chinese vision to the entirety of humankind.

WU SIKE is China's former Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue and a senior diplomat.

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