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On Board China's Upgraded Express Train For High-Quality Shared Development
---signed article by H.E. Ambassador Chen Xiaodong of China to South Africa
2021/03/16

China’s Two Sessions, namely the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which were concluded on March 11, are annual major events in Chinese people’s political life. One of the highlights of this year’s Two Sessions was the adoption of the resolution on the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan and the Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035, which officially became China’s national strategy. This marks a new stage for China to implement the new development philosophy and foster a new development paradigm, so as to fully promote high-quality development. This also marks a new stage for China to open up to the world at a higher level, further take part in global governance, and step up efforts to build a community with a shared future for humankind.

China entering a new stage of development will continue to drive world economic recovery. As the world’s second-largest economy, China’s recovery is in and of itself an important part of world economic recovery. The Report on the Work of the Government this year has set an expected GDP growth at above 6% in 2021. With a bottom-line growth target of 6%, China has demonstrated to the world its determination and confidence in promoting sustained world economic recovery. Many in the international community observe that compared to other major economies suffering contraction across the board in 2020, and given that COVID-19 may rebound at any time, China’s target of over 6% still counts as a high speed of growth. China’s contribution in this regard will deliver more certainty and reassurance for the world economy.

It is more important to see that a growth target of above 6% is not only about the aggregate, but also efforts to improve the economic structure and transform growth models. The IMF and other institutions have predicted that China’s growth this year will be higher than 6%, or even above 8%. It is in this context that China set the target of above 6%, which fully demonstrates that our economic development is no longer a matter of growth rate only, and that more attention was focused on China’s sustainable development in the medium to long-term, as well as on the quality and efficiency of development.

China’s implementation of the new development philosophy will steer the way forward in China’s development. This new philosophy is underpinned by innovative, coordinated, green, and open development for all as well an approach centering on the people and for the people. It has been proposed in response to the major contradictions and problems in China’s own development, as well as on the basis of lessons learned from domestic and international development and accurate analysis about the general trend at home and abroad. As China works to fully build a modern socialist country, GDP growth rate is no longer the only target of development. In its place though, are a series of key indicators that highlight innovation, the environment and people’s livelihood in line with the new development philosophy.

A host of small targets were also set out during the Two Sessions, which include an average annual increase of more than 7% in R&D spending, a 13.5% and 18% reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP respectively, an increase in the ratio of permanent urban residents over population to 65%, an surveyed urban unemployment rate within 5.5%, and an increase in average life expectancy by one year. Each of these targets speaks volumes to the new people-centered development philosophy of the CPC and the Chinese government, which ensures that the people have a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security in the process of building a strong modern country.

China’s efforts to foster a new development paradigm aim to achieve win-win development. It is an inevitable choice in economic development for China to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other and to move to a new stage with domestic demand as the main driving force. The Chinese economy has been deeply integrated into the world economy. All parties are closely interconnected and there is no way out for a country to develop in silos. The Report on the Work of the Government proposed that China will open up more sectors of the economy in a more thorough fashion and participate more fully in international economic cooperation. The four "mores" are remarkable reflections of China’s commitment to high-level opening up to the world.

Over the next decade, China’s cumulative imports in goods are expected to exceed $22 trillion. China will expand its domestic market and drive its own development with a view to bringing huge opportunities for foreign investment as well as foreign products and services. As Premier Li Keqiang said at the press conference, China will continue to reduce the negative list for foreign investment in China and promote the opening up of various fields including the service industry. We will work to create a market-oriented international business environment ruled by law and continue to open up in tandem with boosting domestic demand, so as to maintain China’s position as an important destination for foreign investment and a big market for the world to win together.

China’s high-quality Belt and Road cooperation will take international cooperation to a higher level. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, China will promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation through a higher level of “going global”. COVID-19 has profoundly changed the world, but the demand for Belt and Road cooperation has not changed, and China’s determination to promote Belt and Road cooperation has not changed. China will foster the new development paradigm to provide new channels for Belt and Road cooperation and bring more opportunities to Belt and Road partners. China will continue to adhere to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, pursue open, green and clean cooperation and high-standard and sustainable development that benefits the people. We will work together to seek high-quality development with our partners along the route.

It is the general expectation and common voice of all countries in the world including South Africa to secure post-COVID-19 economic recovery. On this new journey forward, China, South Africa and all of Africa need to work together more than ever before. We are ready to connect China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035 with AU’s Agenda 2063, South Africa’s economic recovery and reconstruction plan and the development strategies of various countries, champion economic recovery with scientific and technological innovation and green development, pursue high quality Belt and Road cooperation, strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, livelihood, health, training, green energy, 5G and other digital fields, so as to help Africa advance industrialization and modernization and better embrace the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, we also strongly support the building of AfcFTA and welcome African countries’ active participation in the fourth China International Import Expo to be held in November this year, so that more competitive African products and services will enter the Chinese market.

China has entered a new stage of development. It is just like a “China Express” with stronger power and greater capacity that is speeding up on a journey toward new development goals. We welcome South Africa and other African countries on board the upgraded China Express to achieve win-win cooperation and high-quality common development.

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