Implement the New Development Concepts

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China II Updated: 2021-12-24

Implement the New Development Concepts*

January 18, 2016

The key to implementing the new development concepts and turning them into standard practice lies with officials at all levels, who must have a correct understanding of the new concepts and act accordingly. Regarding this, I want to emphasize four points.

First, officials should set an example by conscientiously studying the new development concepts and making earnest efforts to apply them, to show the strength of these new concepts to other officials and the general public. "A clearer understanding of new concepts makes actions stronger and more targeted."1 It takes time to form ideas in people's minds. We must continue to study, constantly and at deeper levels, to establish the new development concepts consciously and with full confidence. Officials at all levels should strengthen their studies of the new development concepts. They should use history as a reference, make comparisons from different perspectives, and draw insight from realities. They must learn the lessons summarized from our past experiences and mistakes in seeking development, better understand the guiding role of the new concepts of economic and social development, and make efforts to encourage innovation, emphasize coordination, promote green development, further open up, and benefit all the people.

I have reiterated that professionalism is a must for officials, reflected in their way of thinking and work methods. It is a must not only in the political sense, but also in the need for new knowledge and professional skills, because the new development concepts entail new knowledge, new information, and new requirements of the times. "When seeking knowledge, one must know why and how."2 If we only know some concepts and basic requirements but have not established a compatible knowledge system, we may know "how" but not "why" and speak and do things unprofessionally.

I always emphasize that officials must be experts in economic and social management. At a time when the market, industries and technologies, especially internet technologies, are developing at high speed, officials must increase their competence in economic management. Capital input, production safety, stock market regulation, and internet finance regulation are all areas that involve high risks and require highly-skilled management. Misjudgment, poor choices, or weak regulation and control could lead to problems, even major problems, and serious consequences might affect social stability. Over a period of time, a series of major incidents have occurred in the areas of industrial safety, the stock market, and internet finance, sounding the alarm for us. Nowadays it is not easy to manage economic and social affairs, which involve all kinds of complicated factors. Mistakes are inevitable, but the "tuition fee" we have paid must be worth it. We must learn from our lessons, become wiser the second time, and avoid repeating the same mistakes again. Careful analysis must be made before making investment or engaging in projects and financial activities. Sound judgment must be exercised, and the risks must be evaluated. We must not be tempted by money. Streamlining administration and issuing business licenses before giving administrative permits does not mean giving up our control. We should still be in charge of those that need our supervision. The powers delegated from higher levels must be properly exercised by the lower levels. There should not be a power vacuum in between, and different levels of government must perform their due responsibilities. Officials at all levels should study conscientiously, enhance leadership skills, and improve their management capacity. In decision-making and regulation and control, they must continue to uphold principles and perform systemic management with more foresight and creativity.

"It is not knowledge but action that is difficult to acquire."3 Both knowledge and action are important, but action is essential. Implementing the new development concepts means that we must change our views on development, expand our knowledge base and enhance our governing capacity, adjust relationships involving competing interests, and be innovative in developing our systems and institutions. The new development concepts should be applied to the whole process of state governance, and implemented in our decision-making, policy execution, and examination of various aspects of work. We must strive to enhance our ability to coordinate and implement new development concepts, and continue to expand new development. Eloquence is of no value – real action must be taken to realize these concepts. Officials must put the interests of the state first, develop strategic thinking, and increase their ability in overall and long-term planning. They should not restrict their focus to regional, departmental or short-term interests, and should not undermine the interests of the state for partial gains or undermine fundamental interests for temporary gains.

Second, we should use dialectical thinking to appropriately plan for the designing and execution of new development concepts. New development concepts have been proposed based on dialectical thinking, which is essential to their implementation. We should adopt a holistic approach, and make systematic arrangements by highlighting the integrity and interconnectivity of the new development concepts, so that different aspects enhance each other and make progress side by side, avoiding uncoordinated and unbalanced development. We should be capable of separating the main problems from less pressing ones, and the main aspects of the problems from the minor aspects, so that priorities in action are clarified. While attending to general tasks, we should firmly grip the main problems and their main features, and promote holistic progress with breakthroughs in key areas. We should follow the laws of the unity of opposites, the mutual transformation between quality and quantity, and the negation of negation. We should understand the integration of universality and uniqueness, gradualness and leaps and bounds, advancement and twists and turns, and inheritance and innovation. We must be realistic and move forward step by step. At the same time, we must be courageous to advance with the times. In our work we should apply different methods to solve different issues, depending on the time, location and conditions. We should be flexible, efficient, and adept at making the best solutions.

Third, we should create innovative approaches. We should press forward with the implementation of new development concepts through reform and the rule of law, with reform as an engine and the law as firm cornerstone. The establishment of new concepts always comes after the demolition of old traditions – there is no making without breaking. To bring in new concepts, it requires changes in the way we think, act and work, as well as adjustments in work, social and interest relations. With no reform, but only talking, we will never reach our destination. The Central Committee's plans for further reform are consistent with the new development concepts, and officials at all levels must bear the primary responsibility and ensure the implementation of these concepts. During implementation, the principles and requirements set in the Central Committee's reform plans can be elaborated based on the actual conditions. Pilots and trials are encouraged in areas where no specific reform plans are available; no difficulties shall deter us from implementing the plans. Officials should work hard to solve problems, and they should never slacken their efforts. In implementing new development concepts, we must carefully analyze the new requirements for building the rule of law, study the pressing problems in this area and take targeted measures, and thoroughly carry out new development concepts in accordance with the rule of law.

Fourth, we must stay true to our principles, and promptly address the problems and risks that arise during the implementation of new development concepts. Developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is an enduring and arduous task, and we must be prepared to fight many great battles with new features. Faced by many domestic and international problems, risks, and challenges now and in future, we must not be off guard. Potential problems, risks and challenges are intertwined and reinforce each other. If we do not take preventative measures or address them properly, they will add up, escalate and evolve, from minor ones to major ones, from regional ones to systemic ones, and from international ones to domestic ones. Problems in economic, social, cultural and environmental areas will transform into political challenges, eventually threatening the Party's governance and state security.

China's national and social security is the precondition for development that is innovation-driven, coordinated, green, oriented towards global progress, and beneficial to all. Without security and stability nothing will be accomplished. "Wise men take precautionary measures when disaster is brewing; clever men make estimations about imminent catastrophe."4 We must be alert and cautious, and keep track of small changes that could lead to heavy losses. We should take the initiative and be prepared for risks and challenges in any form. This requires us to be ready for challenges in the fields of economy, politics, culture, society, diplomacy and military. Every official at every level must take on the responsibility.

In his report at the Seventh CPC National Congress in 1945, Mao Zedong talked about preparing for the difficulties challenging China at the time: (1) international hostility; (2) domestic hostility; (3) several main bases had been taken by the KMT; (4) some ten thousand soldiers had been killed by the KMT; (5) the puppet troops had welcomed Chiang Kai-shek; (6) a civil war had broken out; (7) we have our own "Ronald Scobie" who is trying to turn China into Greece; (8) "not recognizing Poland", in other words, the status of the Communist Party had not been recognized; (9) some ten thousand Party members had either defected or lost contact with Party organizations; (10) some Party members had become tired and pessimistic; (11) catastrophic natural disasters had struck; (12) economic difficulties; (13) the enemy had deployed its main force in North China; (14) the KMT had been assassinating our comrades at leading position; (15) disputes in the Party's leadership; (16) we had to do without help from international proletariat organizations; and (17) other unpredictable difficulties. He said, "Many things cannot be predicted. But we, especially senior leading cadres, must be prepared to tackle extremely difficult situations and adversity. We must be clear-headed about this."5 Deng Xiaoping also said, "At the same time, we should base our work on the possible emergence of serious problems and prepare for them. In this way, even if the worst should happen, the sky will not fall."6 Similar approaches, shared by Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, are all important political experience and wisdom in Party and state governance.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that we need to mobilize officials in a more extensive and effective manner. This is of vital significance and is a pressing task now. Officials are the backbone of our Party's cause. Overall our officials are becoming increasingly capable, and the composition of officials is now more balanced, with many young officials growing more experienced in office. However, complexities do exist in our leading ranks. Affected by their own experience or the social and political environment, some officials are distracted and inactive in performing their duties. This is a pressing problem, and we must pay attention to it. We need to find out the root causes and come up with targeted solutions.

According to reports from various sources, official nonfeasance is caused by: first, incapability; second, lack of motivation; and third, lack of courage and a sense of responsibility. This is not new, but why is it an emergency now? One reason is that some officials have not caught up with the new situation, finding themselves unfit for the new tasks and requirements; the other lies in our work and complex factors and influences in the society. In some local governments and units, the measures and supporting policies to implement the Central Committee's plans are yet to be put in place, and adjustment is needed in order to ensure that the guiding principles are correctly understood. Our officials need time to understand the decisions and plans of the central leadership, and our Party organizations need to offer timely guidance to the officials. In some localities and units, there has been insufficient adjustment – or none at all – for guiding developments in theoretical studies, principles, conduct, and the economy and society, as required by the decisions made since the Party's 18th National Congress. All this has hampered adaptation to the new requirements. In wider society, unhealthy tendencies have shaken the conviction of some officials, leaving them in doubt.

It is agreed by all that official nonfeasance in some individuals has become a pressing concern. Party committees at all levels should not wait or vacillate; they should take targeted measures to solve the problem. We need to strengthen education for officials. To fill their gaps in knowledge, experience and ability, officials should take lessons in theory, policy, science and technology, management, and laws and regulations, with the focus on actual needs and effectiveness. In this way they will be more motivated, their doubts addressed, their sense of responsibility reinforced, and their confidence in and capacity to work under the new situation strengthened. In practice we should be strict in discipline while giving due attention to the needs of officials. Officials must conscientiously perform their duties as required by Party organizations, and faithfully follow the Party's principles and disciplines; they must not abuse their power in violation of the law. Party organizations should encourage and support the work of officials, ensure their legitimate income and subsidies, and pay attention to their psychological needs, so that they can fully, actively and confidently apply themselves to their work. Should errors occur, distinctions should be made between the following cases: mistakes due to a lack of experience in pushing pilot reform programs, and deliberate violations of the law and Party discipline; mistakes due to trial efforts not specifically banned by higher-level authorities, and violations of the law and Party discipline with full knowledge of the prohibitions; unintentional mistakes for the good of development, and violations of the law and Party discipline for personal gain. Those who are honest, upright and dare to take new approaches must be protected, so that officials will be fully motivated to lead the people in building a moderately prosperous society as scheduled, and break new ground for socialist modernization.


* Part of the speech at a study session on implementing the decisions of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, attended by officials at the provincial/ministerial level.


1 The Analects of Zhu Xi (Zhu Zi Yu Lei). Zhu Xi (1130-1200) was a neo-Confucian philosopher of the Southern Song Dynasty. 

2 Collected Works of Zhu Xi (Hui An Xian Sheng Zhu Wen Gong Wen Ji)

3  Wu Jing: Governance of the Zhenguan Period (Zhen Guan Zheng Yao). Wu Jing (670-749) was a historian and official of the Tang Dynasty. 

4  Pei Songzhi's annotations in the Records of the Three Kingdoms. Pei Songzhi (372-451) was a historian during the Northern and Southern Dynasties. 

5  Mao Zedong: "Conclusions at the Seventh National Congress of the CPC", Collected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. III, Chin. ed., People's Publishing House, Beijing, 1996, p. 392. 

6  Deng Xiaoping: "We Should Draw on the Experience of Other Countries", Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Vol. III, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1994, p. 262.

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