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Opinion
China's Development Concepts, Thoughts and Strategies for the New Era
 NO. 2 JANUARY 11, 2018

A woman prepares a meal on July 26, 2017 in a new home (below) provided under the government's poverty alleviation program, having been relocated from her old house (above) in Du’an Yao Autonomous County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (XINHUA)

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has laid out a blueprint for China's development in the years to come. Xia Yipu, an associate researcher with the Academy of Marxism, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has made a comprehensive analysis on the country's priorities in the new era in an article for China Today. Excerpts of the article follow:

After an arduous journey since it adopted its reform and opening-up policy, China has entered a new era of its history. The national goal by the middle of the century is to take a two-step approach to building China into a great modern socialist country.

New historical positioning

During his tour of south China in the early 1990s, the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping expressed the hope that China would develop a set of mature and stable systems over the next 30 years. Three decades later, President Xi Jinping observed that "in terms of forming mature and stable systems, the practice of Chinese socialism has crossed the halfway point." In the new era, China will further improve and develop the system of Chinese socialism on the basis of the basic systems already in place, and advance socialist practice by creating a complete set of better-developed, more stable and effective institutions and systems that underpin the development of the Party and the nation, the well-being of the people, social harmony and stability, and the lasting peace of the nation.

In this new era, Chinese people of all ethnic groups will work together and work hard to create a better life for themselves and ultimately achieve common prosperity for everyone. It is the original aspiration and mission of the CPC to strive for the well-being of the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, which is also the essential demand of Chinese socialism.

As the world's second largest economy, China has amazed the world with its growth velocity and capacity for innovation. But its development is still inadequate and imbalanced, and is yet to meet the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. In this circumstance we need to galvanize the creativity and vigor of the entire nation to achieve better-quality, efficient, fairer and more sustainable development. We must also promote fairness and justice and continuously improve people's well-being so that the results of China's reform and development will benefit each and every citizen.

We are now in an era when China is moving closer to center stage globally and making greater contributions to humankind. During its long and strenuous struggles the CPC has come to the conclusion that China must take its own path of development; and observing the sustained growth since the inception of China's reform and opening up, it has gained the understanding that China must integrate its development with that of the world at large. This is why Xi urged the Party members to "adopt a global vision, coordinate domestic development with opening up, integrate China's development with that of the entire world, and align the interests of the Chinese people with those of people of other nations."

By offering its experience, lessons, and achievements in reform, opening-up and socialist development to the development of international socialism and humankind, China accentuates the international influence of the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and offers other developing countries a new option for modernization. This is the appeal and advantage of Chinese socialism in the new era.

Structural problems

Correctly identifying the principal contradiction in the Chinese society is of historical significance for the overall development of China. The 19th National Congress of the CPC declared that what we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing need for a better life. This judgment is part of our vision of all-round moderate prosperity that is only years away from completion, and is also a theoretical innovation about our goal of providing a better life for the people.

The statement of the new contradiction precisely reflects the facts of China's social development. With its GDP now standing at 80 trillion yuan ($12.2 trillion) and per-capita GDP at $8,260, China has left behind the time of deficiency, but is still plagued by imbalance and inadequacy in regional and structural development, grappling with both structural surplus and deficiency.

A glaring example is bike-sharing services, which have mushroomed since 2016 and spread to every corner in China's major cities. While providing commuters with great convenience, their explosive, disordered growth has come to the point of congesting urban transport and becoming an eyesore in cityscapes. By contrast there are few shared bikes in smaller cities and rural areas. In the new era a priority of China is to address and resolve such structural imbalances in its development.

In coping with the new contradiction the CPC must firmly stand by the people, addressing their needs and answering their call for a better life. In the past five years China has deepened reform of the medical and healthcare system, abolished markups on pharmaceuticals at public hospitals, and put an end to the practice of hospitals funding their operations with profits from drug sales, reducing people's medical expenses over the long term. The reform to replace business tax with value-added tax has averted repetitive taxation, reduced the tax burden on businesses, and added fuel to innovation-driven development across society.

China has also torn into housing speculation, and is moving faster to put in place a housing system that ensures supply through multiple sources, provides housing support through multiple channels, and encourages both housing purchase and rental. These measures all testify to the CPC's commitment to serving the people and relying on the people.

Nowadays, Chinese people expect a better life. Their needs in life are of a higher level, better quality and greater diversity.

New goals, new journey

In response to the new era, the 19th National Congress of the CPC updated the roadmap for China's socialist modernization, which is divided into five stages.

The goal for the first stage, from the beginning of reform and opening up to 1990, was to meet the basic needs of the people. For the second stage, from 1991 to 2000, the goal was to have people live a decent life. For the third stage, from 2001 to 2020, the goal is to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. For the fourth stage, from 2021 to 2035, the goal is to basically realize socialist modernization. And in the fifth stage, from 2036 to 2050, our goal is to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

The 19th CPC National Congress set the time to basically realize socialist modernization 15 years earlier than previously scheduled. This indicates on the one hand that China's development has exceeded earlier expectations, and on the other that the momentum for long-term development remains strong.

The congress definition of the great modern socialist country we are working to build resonates with the nation's five-sphere integrated plan (which is to promote coordinated economic, political, cultural, social and ecological advancement). It reveals that China intends to seek not only economic development, but also well-rounded human development and harmony between mankind and nature, thereby making greater contributions to humankind.

A new thought

Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era builds on and further enriches Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It is the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and another innovation in the guiding theories of the CPC.

This thought is based on the understanding that China is now in an important period of strategic opportunity for development when it faces both bright prospects and severe challenges, and is grounded in the ongoing practices of Chinese socialism. Taking into account features of the new era, it makes thorough analysis of key issues in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, including its guiding principle, overarching goal, overall planning, overall strategy, development concepts, military building, national defense, and Party building. It is an important component of the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Covering every aspect of China, including reform, national development and stability, domestic and foreign affairs, national defense, and governance of the CPC, the state and the military, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is a scientific system of theories of strong logic, rich content and keen vision. At such breadth and depth, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era deepens our understanding of the laws that underlie governance by a communist party, the development of socialism, and the evolution of human society.

The new era we have arrived at has inspired new practices that yield new thoughts. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era stands for the Marxism of 21st-century China.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to baishi@bjreview.com

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