(— First part of the “China in the past decade” series) The past decade since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has been extraordinary in terms of the development of the Party and China. The new development philosophy has taken root and major milestone achievements have been made in economic and social development. The most outstanding theoretical achievement in the past 10 years was the formation of Xi Jinping Thought on Economy.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) topped 114 trillion yuan (about $16.94 trillion) in 2021 and the country accounted for over 18% of the global economy in 2021, rising from 11.4% in 2012. China has both cemented and improved its status as the world’s second-largest economy. Per capita GDP reached $12,500, close to the threshold for high-income economies. In recent years, the contribution of China’s economic growth to the world economy has stood at around 30%, making it the largest engine for growth in the global economy.
China steadily advanced innovation in the past decade. We have taken innovation as the primary driving force of development. The ratio of total national R&D expenditure to GDP increased from 1.91% to 2.44%, and China’s global innovation index ranking rose from 34th to 12th place.
China is leading the world in the construction of high-speed railways and 5G networks, major breakthroughs have been made in such fields as manned spaceflight and the exploration of Mars, and great progress has been made in building an innovation-focused country.
China steadily advanced coordinated development in the past decade. China’s urbanization rate increased from 53.1% to 64.7%, the ratio or gap of per capita disposable income between urban and rural residents decreased from 2.88:1 to 2.5:1, and the Gini coefficient dropped from 0.474 to 0.466. Solid steps were made in ensuring equal access to basic public services, and the balance, coordination and complementarity of regional development continued to increase.
China steadily advanced green development in the past decade. The change in China’s ecological environment was historic, with fewer polluted days and stagnant water bodies, as well as bluer skies and more lucid waters and lush mountains. China’s artificial afforestation has accounted for about a quarter of the world’s total, and its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP dropped around 34%.
The country has also topped the globe in installed capacity of wind and photovoltaic power and other green energy, and in the production and sales of new energy vehicles. China promoted the conclusion of the Paris Agreement, clearly announcing targets of achieving peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. It has made important contributions in promoting international cooperation in addressing climate change and advancing global environmental governance.
China steadily advanced opening-up in the past decade. The breadth and depth of China’s openness to the outside world constantly increased. With its share of global merchandise exports rising from 11% to 15%, China maintained its position as the world’s largest trading nation in goods.
We have fully implemented a pre-establishment national treatment and negative list management system for foreign investment, and the use of foreign investment continued to increase. We actively built a network of high-standard free trade zones (FTZs), and the number of free trade agreements (FTAs) signed increased from 10 to 19. We established 21 FTZs and the Hainan Free Trade Port, and created a series of new pacesetters and testing grounds, forming a new pattern of all-round and high-standard opening-up.
China solidly worked on shared development over the past decade. We brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty, which has plagued the Chinese nation for thousands of years. We lifted nearly 100 million rural residents out of poverty, making tremendous contributions to the global poverty reduction. We built the world’s largest education system, social security system, and health care system. People’s average life expectancy rose from 75.4 to 77.9 years old, the proportion of the middle-income group increased from around one-fourth to one-third, and people’s standard of living and quality of life saw continuous improvement.
Meanwhile, China is still a developing country and is still in the primary stage of socialism. People’s average income is relatively low, there is still room for improvement in our ecology and environment, and the development is still unbalanced and inadequate. Particularly, there is still a long way for China to meet its second centenary goal of building a great modern socialist country in all respects, and there is still a large gap compared with the advanced world levels.
We will be resolute and calm, guard against arrogance and rashness, remain true to our original aspiration, and continue our great endeavor. We will keep economic development as our central task, fully apply the new development philosophy, accelerate the establishment of a new development paradigm, and redouble efforts for high-quality development in order to achieve sustainable development featuring advanced production, higher living standards, and better ecosystems.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022