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Embarking on a New Journey to Build a Modern Socialist China

By Qiushi Commentary Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2021-01-14

The Fifth Plenary Session of the CPC 19th Central Committee was held in Beijing from October 26 to 29, 2020. It was an extremely important meeting given that China has in its sights the completion of its goal to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects and is about to embark on a new journey to build a modern socialist country, and it was of overall and historic significance as China is entering a new stage of development and at a critical moment in efforts to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The Recommendations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, approved at the plenary session, provide an in-depth analysis of the profound and complex changes China faces in its development environment. The document sets out a clear vision for the long-range objective of basically realizing socialist modernization by 2035, proposes guidelines and major targets, tasks and measures for China's development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021- 2025), and answers the important questions of what type of development to pursue and how to pursue it against the emerging situation. It is a programmatic document for China to embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country and achieving the Second Centenary Goal, and it is a guide for China's economic and social development over the next five years and beyond.

The 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) was a decisive stage for achieving the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Confronted with a complex international situation and arduous tasks in domestic reform, development, and stability, especially the severe impact of Covid-19, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core, in staying true to its founding mission, united and led the entire Party and people in forging ahead and blazing new trails with a pioneering spirit, worked hard to advance the undertakings of the Party and the state, and overcome risks and challenges. As a result, the great ship of socialism with Chinese characteristics has continued to ride the wind and crest the waves, sailing forward determinedly and achieving decisive success in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The progress and achievements made in the past five years have been extraordinary. There have been major breakthroughs in furthering reform, important progress in law-based governance, and significant gains in strict and comprehensive Party self-governance. Modernization of China's governance system and capacity has accelerated, and the strengths of CPC leadership and Chinese socialist system have been demonstrated further. We  have reached new levels in  our economic, scientific, and technological impact, as well as our overall national strength. The economy is generally stable, and the economic structure continues to be optimized. It is expected that the GDP will exceed RMB 100 trillion in 2020, and the results of our poverty alleviation initiatives have attracted world-wide attention, with a further 55.75 million rural people lifted out of poverty. Annual grain output has remained steady at over 650 billion kilograms for five consecutive years. Pollution control efforts have increased, and there have been marked improvements in the ecological environment. China continues to open up to the outside world, with positive results in developing the Belt and Road Initiative. We have significantly improved people's living standards and established the world's largest social security system, with a basic medical insurance system that covers more than 1.3 billion people and basic old-age insurance that covers nearly 1 billion people. We have also achieved significant results in containing the Covid-19 epidemic in China. The 13th Five-Year Plan is almost complete, and victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is in sight. A significant stride forward has been taken in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and a more confident socialist China stands in the East.

In the past five years, we have accumulated valuable experience and insights. Amid great struggles with changing features, the strengths of CPC leadership and China's socialist system have been demonstrated further, our new development philosophy has grown in popularity among our people, the political qualifications and fighting spirit of our vast ranks of Party members and officials have been refined, and the spirit of the Chinese people of all ethnic groups has grown more vibrant. The great struggles waged by China in the new era once again eloquently prove that, with Xi Jinping at the core of the CPC Central Committee and as the helmsman of the whole Party, with the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era, and with the whole Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups united and working together, China can undoubtedly overcome any difficulties and obstacles on the road ahead and advance socialism even more assiduously in the new era.

Building a powerful modern socialist country and realizing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation are paramount and fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, and they are general tasks for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. In his report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC, General Secretary Xi set out the following two-step strategy for advancing socialist modernization in the new era and realizing the Second Centenary Goal: on the basis of achieving the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, China should strive to basically build itself into a modern socialist country by 2035; and, having largely achieved modernization, China should struggle for another 15 years, from 2035 to the middle of this century, to become a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious.

Based on an in-depth analysis of domestic and international development trends and China's development conditions in the future, the plenary session reviewed the prospects of the 14th Five-Year Plan and long-range objectives through the year 2035, and it proposed the clear target of basically achieving socialist modernization by 2035. This shows that the CPC Central Committee has both the foresight for making plans as well as the sense of responsibility to history for carrying on past traditions and leading the way in the future. By 2035, China's economic, scientific, technological, and overall strength will have risen sharply; our total economic volume and the per capita income of urban and rural residents will have reached new levels; new industrialization, expansion of IT application, urbanization, and agricultural modernization will basically be achieved; modernization of China's governance system and capacity will almost be complete; we will have realized the objective of building a healthy country that is strong on culture, education, human resources, and sports; the goal of building a beautiful China will be achieved in the main; a new situation in opening up will be created; per capita GDP will reach the level of a moderately developed country; we will be closer to completing the Peaceful China initiative; modernization of our national defense and armed forces will be largely in place; living standards will be higher; and we will have made clear, substantive progress toward well- rounded human development and common prosperity. These bright prospects should inspire us and drive us forward!

The 14th Five-Year Plan period will be the first five years following China's fulfillment of the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and China will enter a new stage of development. Entering that new stage is a great leap in the historic process of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. China's development is and will remain in a period of important strategic opportunity, but its opportunities and challenges will evolve and transform. This plenary session formulated a systematic plan and strategic arrangements for China's development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and it clarified the new achievements in economic and social development to be  made during the five-year period. It also proposed the main objectives concerning the new era, new ideas, new goals, new arrangements, and new requirements, which were to achieve new results in economic development, new steps in reform and opening up, new improvements in social etiquette and civility, new progress in building an eco-civilization, new highs in living standards and public wellbeing, and new progress in national governance.

The plenary session also set out the following 12 major tasks: uphold the core position of innovation in China's modernization drive and accelerate the construction of a country with strong science and technology; promote a modern industrial system to optimize and upgrade the economy; create a strong domestic market and a new development dynamic; comprehensively deepen continue reforms and develop a high-quality socialist market economy; prioritize agricultural and rural development and promote rural revitalization; optimize the spatial layout of our territory and promote regional coordinated development and new urbanization; develop cultural undertakings and cultural industries to improve our country's cultural soft power; promote green development to encourage the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature; open up broadly to the outside world to unlock new prospects for cooperation and mutual benefit; improve people's quality of life and increase social development; coordinate development and security to make China safer; and accelerate the modernization of national defense and the military to make China an affluent country with a strong military. Accomplishing these goals and tasks will lay a solid foundation for realizing the Second Centenary Goal and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 21, 2020)