The Chinese Dream Is the People's Dream*
September 22, 2015
Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, and particularly since the start of reform and opening up in 1978, China has completed an extraordinary journey, in which people of my generation have been personally involved.
In the late 1960s, when I was in my teens, I was sent to a small village named Liangjiahe in Yan'an, Shaanxi Province, in western China. There I worked in the fields as a farmer for seven years. Like the locals, I lived in caves dug out from loess hills and slept on an earthen bed. The locals were very poor, and they could go for months without a bite of meat. I grew to understand what they needed most. Later when I became secretary of the village's Party branch, I set out to develop the local economy, because I knew what they needed. I very much wanted to see them have meat on their dinner tables, and I wanted to see that often. But that was a hard goal to attain.
This Spring Festival I went back to Liangjiahe, which now has asphalt roads, tile-roofed brick houses, and internet access. The elderly enjoy the basic old-age pension, the villagers are covered by medical insurance, and the children receive good education. Having meat for dinner is of course no longer a dream. This made me feel strongly that the Chinese Dream is the people's dream, and that if it is to succeed, it must be based on the Chinese people's aspiration for a better life.
Changes in the small village of Liangjiahe epitomize the development and progress of the Chinese society since 1978. In less than 40 years we have boosted our economy to become the world's second largest, supplying 1.3 billion people with food and clothing and basically achieving moderate prosperity. The people enjoy dignity and rights at an unprecedented level. These changes have not only affected the lives of the Chinese. They also signify remarkable progress in human civilization and China's important contribution to world peace and development.
Nonetheless, we are fully aware that China remains the world's biggest developing country. China's per capita GDP is only two-thirds of the world average and one-seventh that of the United States, ranking about 80th in global terms. According to our standards, there are still 70 million people living in poverty in China; according to World Bank standards, 200 million Chinese are still living below the poverty line. In urban and rural areas 70 million people rely on subsistence allowances, and there are 85 million people with disabilities. Over the past two years I have visited many impoverished areas in China, and paid personal visits to families in need. Even now I can still see their faces and feel their longing for a better life.
All this demonstrates that we in China must continue our hard work. Development remains the top priority for contemporary China, and the primary task of China's leadership is to focus on improving people's living standards and achieving common prosperity. It is to this end that we have put forward the Two Centenary Goals. The first is to double GDP and the per capita incomes of urban and rural residents compared to 2010 levels, and to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, as the centenary of the CPC approaches. The second is to build China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious, and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by the middle of the century, which will see the centenary of the PRC. All that we are doing now is designed to accomplish these goals. We must achieve the first goal, and in order to do that we must drive reform to deeper levels, we must thoroughly implement the rule of law, and we must run the Party with strict discipline. This is what we call the Four-pronged Strategy.
* Part of the speech at a reception in Seattle, Washington State, the United States.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)