The Decisive Stage in Achieving the First Centenary Goal*
October 29, 2015
To realize a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the year 2020 is a solemn promise that our Party has made to the Chinese people and to posterity. The end of the 13th Five-year Plan period (2016-2020) coincides with the deadline we have set for the attainment of this goal, which means that this will be the last five-year plan in the drive to realize the goal. The tasks of the Party and government over the coming five years therefore boil down to one thing: to achieve the final victory in the decisive push to realize the first of our Two Centenary Goals.
In the early stage of reform and opening up, Deng Xiaoping first used the term "moderate prosperity" to describe Chinese-style modernization, introducing the goal of establishing "a society in which people lead a fairly comfortable life"1 by the end of the 20th century. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the whole Party and all the people, this goal was attained on schedule at the end of the last century. The Chinese people had on the whole attained a moderately prosperous standard of living. On this foundation, the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002 introduced the goal of comprehensively building and realizing a moderately prosperous society of a higher level for the benefit of more than one billion people in the first 20 years of this century. Since then, committed to the goal, our Party has, one step after another, made remarkable progress in pursuit of the goal.
Now, with the finishing line in sight, it is time to make a final dash in this journey of two decades. Completing this strategic task is both our historic responsibility and our greatest honor. We must be soberly aware that while we have what it takes to attain the goal on schedule, the task we face is still enormous and the road ahead will not be easy going. As various problems overlap and risks mount, we are still facing grave and complex challenges. If we fail to respond to these challenges properly, or if we encounter systemic risks or commit serious errors, then the process will be delayed, and could even stall. Therefore, all Party members must be fully prepared for what lies ahead, not just mentally but also in what we do. We must have a clear picture of the situation, strengthen our confidence, and continue to work with determination.
An ancient scholar said, "You are bound to fail if you only know what to do but without knowing the situation."2 Despite the profound and complex changes in both international and domestic environments, our assessment that China is in the midst of an important period of strategic opportunity for development still stands. Internationally speaking, the current political and economic situation is on the whole conducive to preserving the overall trend of world peace and development. The world economy is making a difficult recovery amidst deep adjustments, the global governance system is undergoing profound changes, and the world balance of power is becoming increasingly equitable. These factors have created a relatively stable external environment for China's development. Domestically speaking, our considerable material foundations, abundant human resources, vast markets, and enormous potential for development all determine that our economic fundamentals remain favorable for long-term growth. Though we have entered a new normal of economic development and experienced an unavoidable shift in economic growth, it should be noted that the transformation of our growth model is gaining momentum, the structure of the economy is constantly improving, new growth drivers are replacing old ones, and reform and opening up is unleashing new impetus for development. All this suggests that the sound trend of economic development we are currently seeing can be sustained.
Building on the targets and requirements set forth at the 16th CPC National Congress, and taking into consideration new conditions and developments, the "Recommendations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for the 13th Five-year Plan for Economic and Social Development" have set forth new goals for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects over the coming five years. These targets and requirements, together with those introduced at the 16th, 17th, and 18th national congresses of the CPC in 2002, 2007, and 2012, constitute a pledge we have made to the people. We must do everything possible in our power to see that they are realized. As these targets and requirements have already been covered in the Recommendations, what I would like to talk about here is how to keep command of and advance these initiatives.
The targets and requirements laid out in the Recommendations are directed towards the entire country, but that does not mean they can be applied uniformly to all localities. For example, to achieve the goals of doubling China's 2010 GDP and per capita income by 20203, we will need to sustain an average economic growth rate of 6.5 percent and raise the per capita disposable incomes of urban and rural residents by at least 5.8 percent per year for the 13th Five-year Plan period, which in effect means synchronizing the growth of the economy and of incomes. It is clearly not possible for all parts of the country to sustain such rates of growth. A more realistic scenario is that some areas will see higher growth rates while others will see lower growth rates. For certain central and western regions, old revolutionary base areas, ethnic minority areas, border areas, and impoverished areas, and particularly agricultural production zones and key ecosystem service zones, our primary goals will be to guarantee national food security and ecological security, and achieve notable progress in various social programs, seeking in particular to raise standards of living and improve public services by a significant margin. We must guarantee the basic needs of food and clothing for those living in poverty and ensure that they have proper access to compulsory education, medical care, and safe housing, whilst working to raise their incomes above the poverty line. This does not mean that per capita GDP and per capita income in all localities throughout the country must reach the national average before moderate prosperity across the board can be achieved.
What I must make clear is that to bring about a moderately prosperous society in all respects is not to start another massive campaign to make rapid progress. We cannot realize the goal of doubling GDP and per capita income by relying on an extensive mode of development or by turning to strong stimulus measures to boost the pace of growth. That would only take us back down the same old road and create new stresses and problems. As we are working to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects, we also need to consider more long-term development requirements and accelerate our efforts to create a mode of economic development that is suited to the new normal. Only in this way will we be able to realize a moderately prosperous society of high quality and lay down a stronger foundation for realizing the second of the Two Centenary Goals.
* Part of the speech at the second full assembly of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
1 Deng Xiaoping: "We Should Take a Longer-Range View in Developing Sino-Japanese Relations", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1994, pp. 63-64.
2 Lu Zhi: "Border Defense" (Lun Yuan Bian Shou Bei Shi Yi Zhuang). Lu Zhi (754-805) was an official and thinker of the Tang Dynasty.
3 These goals were set in the political report "Firmly March on the Path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive to Complete the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects" to the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)