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A Decade of Progress in High-Quality Development

By Qiu Ping Source: Updated: 2023-04-07

The decade since CPC’s 18th National Congress in 2012 has been an extraordinary period in China’s socioeconomic development.

China’s economy has experienced historic growth and its composite national strength and international influence have increased significantly.

Between 2013 and 2021, its GDP grew at an average annual rate of 6.6%, making China the fastest growing country among the world’s major economies for several consecutive years. Furthermore, China contributed around 30% to the world economic growth, more than any country in the world.

Its GDP increased from 53.9 trillion yuan (accounting for 11.3% of the world economy) in 2012 to 114.4 trillion yuan (18.5%) in 2021. Its status as having the world’s second largest economy, second largest consumer market, largest manufacturing industry, largest goods trade, and largest foreign exchange reserves were all consolidated.

Its per capital average GDP increased from US$6,300 in 2012 to US$12,551 in 2021, taking China very close to the World Bank’s definition of a high-income country. China is the world’s largest grain producer and remains ranked first in the world for output of more than 220 industrial products. It has also built the world’s largest networks of high-speed railways and expressways as well as 5G, providing a more solid material foundation for development.

China’s innovation-driven development has increased sharply, propelling the country into the ranks of the world’s most innovative countries.

China has the second-highest R&D investment in the world, reaching 2.8 trillion yuan in 2021, which is equivalent to 2.44% of GDP, an increase of 0.53 percentage points compared with 2012.

We have energized the development of the new economy, which has become an important driver of economic growth. In 2021, the value added of new industries and new forms and models of business accounted for 17.25% of GDP, an increase of 1.88 percentage points compared with 2016.

Our labor productivity constantly increased, reaching 146,380 yuan per capita in 2021, an increase of 80.3% compared with 2012 (calculated based on prices in 2020). China has risen significantly in the Global Innovation Index to 11th place (up 23 places since 2012) according to the Global Innovation Index 2022 Report issued by the World Intellectual Property Organization, making China an increasingly important member of the global innovation community.

China's coordinated development progressed steadily, and its economy underwent restructuring and upgrading.

Progress was made in industrial upgrading, with an 11.6% increase in the value added of large-scale high-tech manufacturing between 2013 and 2021, 4.8 percentage points higher than the growth in value added for large-scale industries as a whole. In 2021, the value added of the service industry accounted for 53.3% of GDP, an increase of 7.8 percentage points compared with 2012.

We constantly optimized our demand structure, and the contribution of final consumption expenditure to economic growth was 65.4%, up 10 percentage points compared with 2012, making it the leading driver of economic growth.

New-model urbanization steadily progressed, and all aspects of rural development accelerated, with further narrowing of the gap between urban and rural development. The proportion of the population who are permanent urban residents increased from 53.1% in 2012 to 64.72% in 2021, while the ratio between the per capita disposable income of urban residents and that of rural residents fell from 2.88 in 2012 to 2.5 in 2021. We achieved integrated development between China’s four major regions (the eastern, central, western and northeast regions), effectively implemented important regional strategies, and entered a new phase of coordinated regional development.

China has had a positive green development trajectory, and major strides have been taken toward building a beautiful China.

Remarkable results have been achieved in the battle against pollution, allowing people to enjoy more blue skies, clear waters, and clean land. In 2021, the proportion of days with good or excellent air quality in cities at or above prefectural level nationwide was 87.5%, the proportion of surface water in China with excellent water quality was 84.9%, and the rate of safe utilization of contaminated arable land remained above 90%.

Positive results have been achieved in conserving energy and reducing energy consumption, with a rapid shift toward energy use that is clean, low-carbon, safe, and efficient. Between 2013 and 2021, energy consumption per unit GDP cumulatively decreased by 26.4%. In 2021, consumption of clean energy, including natural gas and hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar power accounted for 25.5% of total energy consumption, up 11 percentage points compared with 2012. Efforts to reach peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality are advancing in an orderly manner, public awareness of energy conservation and environmental protection has grown substantially, and environmentally friendly and healthy working and living practices are gradually taking hold.

China took opening up and development to new levels and accelerated the creation of a new model of opening up.

China’s status as a major trading country was consolidated. In 2020, its total trade in goods and services was worth US$5.3 trillion, taking China past the United States to become the world’s largest trading nation for the first time. The country’s total trade in goods and services reached US$6.9 trillion in 2021, maintaining its leading position.

Two-way investment reached new levels, with actually utilized foreign capital of US$173.5 billion in 2021, an increase of 53.1% compared with 2012 and a record high, while outward direct investment reached US$178.8 billion, the second highest in the world.

We achieved positive results in the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative, signing more than 200 cooperation agreements with more than 170 countries and international organizations by the end of 2021. Furthermore, the China-Laos Railway went into operation, and the China-Europe freight train service capitalized upon the unique advantages of international rail transport.

China increased efforts to ensure all its people shared in the fruits of development.

We achieved a comprehensive victory in the battle against poverty, with 98.99 million poor rural residents and 832 impoverished counties lifted out of poverty in the past decade based on the current poverty line, thereby resolving the problem of absolute poverty in China once and for all and scoring another miraculous achievement of historic significance.

Employment remained stable overall. Between 2013 and 2021, the total workforce remained stable at more than 740 million, while urban workers increased at an average annual rate of 13 million.

Incomes grew in step with the economy. In the same period, national per capita disposable income grew at an average annual rate of 6.6%, 0.5 percentage points quicker than average annual growth in per capita GDP. We also developed the world’s largest education, social security, and healthcare systems to better meet the changing expectations of our people.