Special: Two Sessions 2023
Chinese modernization has spurred discussions at home and abroad since the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
During this year’s “two sessions,” the Chinese modernization blueprint will be fleshed out with specific targets to strive for.
The following are 10 perspectives shared by deputies to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body, to better understand the blueprint:
Pursuing high-quality development is the first and foremost task in China’s bid to build a modern socialist country in all respects.
“A modern China should be one with high-quality development,” said Han Baojiang, director of economics department of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee (National Academy of Governance) and a national political advisor.
China has made strides in recent years in boosting R&D spending, expanding clean energy production, and nurturing growth poles with regional development strategies, alongside progress in other areas to seek innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared growth.
“To realize high-quality growth, efforts should be made to promote transformation in quality, efficiency and driving forces,” said Yu Miaojie, president of Liaoning University and a national legislator.
SURGING MOMENTUM OF INNOVATION
The recent sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth II” has wowed the audience with its innovative components. The film displays many sci-tech products including quantum computers and exoskeleton robots.
China’s modernization drive brings science fiction closer to the public, science fiction writer Liu Cixin said.
The country has joined the ranks of the world’s innovators, with significant advances made in science and technology. Up in space, China’s space station has opened its long-term manned presence mode. The country’s space station project has entered the application and development stage, and two manned spacecraft and one or two cargo spacecraft will be launched annually.
“The achievement in space has testified to China’s efforts to boost its strength in aerospace and also reflected the surging momentum of innovation across the country,” said Wang Xiaojun, head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and a national political advisor.
Empowerment by science and technology is a hallmark of China’s high-quality development, and sci-tech innovation serves as a driving force for Chinese modernization, Wang added.
VITALITY UNLEASHED BY REFORMS
China has continuously imbued its socialist modernization endeavors with fresh dynamism by deepening reform and opening up.
Cases in point include hosting the China International Import Expo, a platform to promote trade and investment cooperation, and the recent launch of the comprehensive registration-based initial public offering system as part of the capital market reform.
Moves are also afoot to energize the country’s business entities. China has sought to streamline administration, delegate power, improve regulation, and upgrade services while nurturing a market environment featuring fair competition.
“The expectations and confidence of business entities, especially private firms, concern not just current economic development but also the big picture of Chinese modernization,” said national political advisor Zhang Lianqi.
SOPHISTICATED TRANSPORT NETWORK
China has built the world’s largest high-speed railway network, expressway network, and world-class port clusters. It has opened air and sea routes that reach all parts of the world. A sophisticated transport network has been set up.
By 2035, the National 1-2-3 Travel Circle — one hour to commute in cities, two hours to travel within city clusters, and three hours between major domestic cities — will take the initial shape, making transport more convenient for passengers.
China leads the world in developing smart railway construction, said Zhong Zhangdui, a professor specializing in transportation studies at Beijing Jiaotong University and a national political advisor, adding that the country is also speeding up exploration in smart travel and platform construction.
HARMONY BETWEEN HUMANITY AND NATURE
Chinese modernization is the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature.
The 14th CPPCC National Committee has set up a new sector for its members from environmental and resource-related circles. It is a major adjustment to the CPPCC’s sector makeup over the past 30 years. Zhang Xingying from the China Meteorological Administration is a member of this sector.
“This adjustment happens in line with the trend of our time,” Zhang said, noting that advancing Chinese modernization entails appropriately handling the relationship between humanity and resources and the environment.
Over the past decade, the idea that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets” has become a consensus and commitment among society. China has successfully explored a path for green development.
By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), China will lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 18 percent from 2020 and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent.
Chinese modernization is the modernization of common prosperity for all.
In recent years, Zhejiang Province, which is a demonstration zone for common prosperity through high-quality development, has made strides in narrowing the income gap between rural and urban areas.
Last year, the per capita disposable income of rural residents in the eastern province hit 37,565 yuan (about 5,438 U.S. dollars), bringing the urban-rural income ratio from 2.37 in 2012 to 1.9 in 2022. The country had seen the figure drop to 2.45 from 2.88 in the past decade.
A lower ratio means a shortened wealth gap between rural and urban areas, and the minor change in the figure mirrors a remarkable improvement on the income of rural residents, said Qu Yongyi, an official with the Institute of Industrial Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a national political advisor.
China aims to raise its per capita GDP to be on par with mid-level developed countries by 2035 and expand its middle-income population to over 800 million in 15 years.
Chinese modernization is the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement.
In the northwestern suburb of Beijing, an expansion project of the Palace Museum, known as its north section project, is expected to complete by 2025 when the museum celebrates its 100th founding anniversary. It will be a modern multifunctional museum capable of exhibition, restoration, and preservation of cultural relics.
Also, a protection plan for Beijing’s Central Axis from 2022 to 2035 was released and implemented, defining the heritage and buffer zones. It marks new progress in the city’s efforts to include the Central Axis in the list of world cultural heritage sites.
Du Haijiang, Party chief of the Palace Museum and a national political advisor, said the museum’s north section project would carry forward fine traditional Chinese culture and meet people’s ever-growing intellectual and cultural needs.
Today, China is advancing its profound cultural heritage and has developed a stronger sense of cultural confidence.
As the Chinese saying goes, “only when the grain supply is stable will the society be stable.”
In 2022, despite the multiple challenges posed by COVID-19 and natural disasters, harvests in China remained high, with the country’s annual grain output above 650 million tonnes for the eighth consecutive year.
For industry, energy is often referred to as its food. According to Yang Changli, chairman of the China General Nuclear Power Group and a national political advisor, energy security is important for modernizing the national security system and capacity and should be given more attention.
As for the people, security is even more of a truthful sentiment, as the index of Chinese people’s sense of security reached 98.62 percent.
DOORS OPENING WIDER
Chinese modernization is the modernization of peaceful development.
The country aims to broaden its development space with high-standard opening up and deeper integration into the global industrial division and cooperation.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by China almost a decade ago, demonstrates the country’s pursuit of high-standard opening up. The China-Europe freight trains, running across BRI countries and regions, made 1,410 train trips in January.
The BRI has made interconnections among more regions a reality, benefiting the people of more countries, said Jiang Ying, chair of Deloitte China and a national political advisor, adding that the world will also benefit from China’s pursuit of modernization.
China has also lowered market access for foreign investors, steadily advanced institutional opening up and shared growth opportunities with the rest of the world.
“High-level opening up is the only way for China to realize modernization,” said Quan Heng, Party chief of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and a national legislator, adding that a more open China not only injects strong impetus into its development but also delivers more opportunities for cooperation and win-win outcomes for the world.
PERSISTENT HARD WORK
Chinese modernization is the modernization of a huge population. China is working to achieve modernization for more than 1.4 billion people, more than the combined population of all developed countries today. It is a task of unparalleled difficulty and complexity.
China needs to maintain stable growth while advancing its green transformation, according to national legislators and political advisors. China also needs to shore up weaknesses in sectors vital to its development, and persistent hard work is a must to tackle these challenges, they said.
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