Understanding China Better through the 20th CPC National Congress
By H.E. Mr. Tan Jian, Ambassador of China to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
As the most populous country and the second biggest economy in the world, China is moving forward like a giant ship. To understand where this ship is heading, one may ask the captain at the helm, the governing party of China.
In mid-October, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has come to a successful conclusion in Beijing. This Congress, once in every 5 years, was held at a critical time when the world is changing in ways like never before. It is therefore of special significance and has attracted worldwide attention.
The most important outcomes of the Congress include the election of a new central leadership with Xi Jinping as the General Secretary, and the adoption of the Report delivered by Xi Jinping. Here are some highlights.
China in the past decade: Great changes
The Congress has summarized the progress in 16 aspects over the past ten years, with many historical achievements.
On economic development, China’s GDP has doubled, now accounting for 18.5 percent of the world economy. China has ensured food and energy security for its more than 1.4 billion people. China has excelled in building a modern infrastructure system, including the world’s largest networks of high-speed railways and expressways, numerous airports and sea ports, water conservancy and energy projects, etc.
On social development, China has lifted 100 million people out of poverty and resolved the problem of absolute poverty, an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of China and that of the world. It has worked continuously to ensure people’s access to childcare, education, employment, medical services, elderly care, housing, and social assistance, thus bringing about an all-around improvement in people’s lives. China’s life expectancy has reached 78.2 years.
On environment protection, China has acted on the idea that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. It is leading the world in developing renewable energy, and its installed capacity of wind, solar, hydro and biomass power accounts for more than one third of the world’s total. China has made solid progress in promoting green, circular, and low-carbon development, its ecological conservation systems have been remarkably improved.
On opening up, China has become a major trading partner for more than 140 countries and regions. It is the world’s top trader in goods, a major destination for global investment and a leading country in outbound investment. China has worked to build a globally-oriented network of high-standard free trade areas and accelerated the development of pilot free trade zones. China has been advancing the Belt and Road Initiative, making it a public good and a cooperation platform.
Blueprint for the Future: Chinese modernization
The Congress has set up the centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects by 2049, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Chinese modernization is through the path of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. This is the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development. It prioritizes high-quality, green and people-centered development.
China will set store by high-quality development and market economy. It will continue to build a high standard socialist market economy, working to see that the market plays the decisive role in resource allocation and that the government better plays its role, putting in place new systems for a higher-standard open economy. China will foster a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized.
China will accelerate the transition to a model of green development. China has declared that it aims to realize the goal of carbon emissions peaking before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. It means that China will achieve the largest reduction in carbon intensity the world has ever seen, and move from carbon peaking to carbon neutrality within the shortest time in world history. This is a tall order which entails a broad and profound systemic socio-economic transformation.
China will follow a Chinese path of human rights development, actively participate in global human rights governance, provide better protections for human rights, and promote all-around advancement of human rights.
China’s foreign policy: Dedicated to peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit
The world has undergone profound changes. The deficit in peace, development, security, and governance is growing. The goals of China’s foreign policy are to uphold world peace and promote common development. China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace, with a view to promoting a human community of a shared future. It is in this spirit that China has put forward the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative.
On peace, China is committed to building a world of lasting peace through dialogue and consultation. It has always decided its position and policy on issues based on their own merits, and it has strived to uphold the basic norms governing international relations and safeguard international fairness and justice. China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. It stays true to the principle of equality of all countries big or small, strong or weak, and rich or poor, and it respects the development paths and social systems independently chosen by all the world’s peoples.
On Security, China is committed to a world of universal security through collaboration and shared benefits. China pursues a defensive national defense policy. It stands firmly against all forms of hegemonism and power politics, the Cold War mentality, interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and double standards. No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansionism.
On development, China is committed to its fundamental national policy of opening to the outside world and pursues a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. It strives to create new opportunities for the world with its own development. China opposes protectionism, the erection of “fences and barriers”, decoupling, disruption of industrial and supply chains, unilateral sanctions, and maximum-pressure tactics. It stands ready to work with other countries to foster an international environment conducive to development and create new drivers for global growth.
On cooperation, China is committed to a world of common prosperity through mutually beneficial cooperation, to an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning, and to a clean and beautiful world through green and low-carbon development. China will get actively involved in global governance in response to climate change. It adheres to the right course of economic globalization. It strives to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, advance bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation, and boost international macroeconomic policy coordination. It is prepared to invest more resources in global development cooperation. China will continue to contribute to narrowing the North-South gap, supporting and assisting other developing countries in accelerating development.
On global governance, China upholds true multilateralism, promotes greater democracy in international relations, and works to make global governance fairer and more equitable. China is firm in safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
Messages: Certainty and consistency in its policy, more opportunities for and contribution to the world
The future policy of China put forward by the Congress could be characterized by 3 Cs — clarity, certainty and consistency, which is a major contribution to the much-needed stability of the global economy.
China pursues peaceful development as its paramount task. This is determined by what the Congress called the primary challenge facing China, namely, the gap between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. In other words, while China will of course defend its sovereignty, security, and development interests as an independent nation, it has no interest whatsoever in geopolitical competition, to replace any country or rival for hegemony.
China’s development is a significant contribution to the prosperity of the world. Over the past decade, China has contributed an average of 30% to global growth annually. China will expand its opening-up. In the next 15 years, the middle-income group in China is expected to expand from 400 million to 800 million. China will turn its super-sized market into enormous opportunities for the world.
China will continue to take strong actions in ecological conservation and environmental protection. On climate change, it is one thing for countries and regions to announce their respective goals; another to implement. China takes its commitment seriously and means what it says. The international community could request countries to show their annual report cards for people around the world to see who have delivered and who are the problems.
China is part of the solution. The world today is faced with severe challenges and uncertainties. China’s development helps build not only a better China, but also a better world.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level between China and the Netherlands. The two countries have achieved a lot over the past 50 years. China’s blueprint for future development will be a boost to the Sino-Dutch relations, providing more cooperation opportunities in economic, social, environmental and many other sectors. As President Xi Jinping pointed out in his meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte in G20 of 2022, the most valuable experience for this relationship is the commitment to openness and pragmatism. China and the Netherlands could achieve more in the next 50 years.