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March Towards the Second Centenary Goal

Source: Xi Jinping The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-05-26

March Towards the Second Centenary Goal*

October 29, 2020

Through generations of hard work, we are now very close to the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and to eradicating absolute poverty. We will embark on our journey towards the Second Centenary Goal next year.

At this critical moment, we should know that we have built up considerable development momentum, and that we have all the foundations, conditions and abilities to secure another great victory. But at the same time we need to be alert to the unprecedented complexity of an environment in which various problems overlap, and risks and challenges are escalating. We should adopt a historical and holistic approach, have a sound view on future development, and see through the mass of complexities influencing international and domestic affairs. Remaining calm in the face of danger, we should seek to turn crises into opportunities, open up new dimensions in our work, and achieve our strategic goal of national rejuvenation, while dealing with global change on a scale unseen in a century.

From an international perspective, these changes are still gathering momentum and the environment is becoming increasingly complex. On the one hand, peace and development remain the underlying trends of our times, a new revolution in science, technology and industry continues to develop, the international balance of power is undergoing profound readjustment, and the idea that humanity belongs to one community of shared future has taken deep root in people’s hearts.

On the other hand, instability and uncertainties are spreading globally, the Covid-19 pandemic will have far-reaching consequences, opposition to globalization is on the rise, populism and xenophobia are gaining ground, unilateralism, protectionism and hegemony are posing a threat to world peace and development, and profound and complex changes are reshaping the international economic, political, cultural, security, and scientific and technological landscape. We should correctly understand the key factors that will determine the course of these unprecedented changes, and look to seize the strategic initiative.

Domestically, we enjoy many strengths and favorable conditions for further development, while facing a number of difficulties and challenges. It is essential to take a comprehensive, dialectical and long-term perspective, and open up new areas for development.

First, we should have an in-depth understanding of how the principal challenge facing Chinese society is evolving, and devise a more systematic solution to imbalanced and insufficient development. Currently the major problems affecting China’s development are as follows:

• Our capacity for innovation cannot satisfy the need for high-quality development.
• As the foundation of the country, agriculture is not strong enough.
• The urban-rural divide, regional disparity and income inequality are all considerable.
• There is much work to do in eco-environmental protection.
• There are shortcomings in social governance and social security.

All these problems stem from our country’s imbalanced and insufficient development. This imbalance is manifested between regions, fields and sectors, and imposes restraints on overall development. Insufficient development makes China’s all-round socialist modernization a time-consuming and difficult endeavor.

In order to address these issues, we must adhere to the world view and methodology of dialectical and historical materialism. They represent the principal challenge facing our society, and it will be impossible for us to resolve them at a stroke. Only an active and sustained effort will bear fruit. We must aim to solve problems and reach our goals, and adopt a holistic approach. We should spare no effort to consolidate our foundations, leverage our strengths, and address our weaknesses, so as to promote the comprehensive, balanced and sustainable economic and social development of our country.

Second, we should truly understand the people’s expectation for a better life, and target our solutions at imbalanced and insufficient development. Shortages and insufficient supply, which plagued our economy in the past, have been fully addressed. The people’s expectations have evolved in general from satisfying basic needs to improving the quality of life, and their demands at different levels and in various areas are becoming more diverse. Some non-pressing problems in the past have become more severe today as the people’s expectations have risen. We should be more aware of these problems, and our ability to solve them has to increase accordingly. We should ensure and improve the people’s wellbeing through development, address the most pressing and immediate issues that concern them the most, better meet their desire for a better life, promote well-rounded personal development and comprehensive social progress, and achieve more substantial progress in promoting prosperity for all.

Third, we should be well aware of the fundamentals of our longterm economic growth, and be more confident in addressing imbalanced and insufficient development. At present, the economy is facing unprecedented difficulties under the combined impact of periodical and structural factors, short-term and long-term problems, and the Covid-19 epidemic and external pressure. However, the epidemic will not last forever, and the virus can be contained; external pressure compels us to strengthen our capacity for independent innovation, and the economic fundamentals sustaining our country’s sound development remain unchanged. Firm Party leadership and the strength of our socialist system in concentrating resources on major projects guarantee our country’s steady and sustainable economic growth and social stability. For a long time, the solid material foundations we have laid, a wealth of talent, a complete industrial system, strengths in science and technology, and the world’s largest market with the greatest potential have underpinned our economic growth and our defenses against external risks.

With a comprehensive analysis of the domestic and international situation, we are still in an important period of strategic opportunity which will continue, but the challenges and opportunities keep changing. When we first spoke of a period of strategic opportunity, we referred to the first two decades of this century. Now, after 20 years, how shall we address new challenges and opportunities? This is a major issue we need to consider. In the past it was easier to seize the opportunities as we sailed with the current; it has become harder now as we are moving forward against the wind. It was not difficult to identify risks and challenges in a relatively stable environment; now we are facing a volatile and complex global situation. Geopolitical challenges, like high waves, submerged reefs, and numerous undercurrents, require us to better adapt to changes. In the past, our lower-level development could be seen as more complementary to other countries; now at a much higher level, we have become more competitive with others.

Therefore, our judgment is that there currently exist both crises and opportunities. Opportunities are nurtured in crises, and crises can turn into opportunities. The opportunities are more strategic and promising; the challenges are more complex and bear on our overall situation. The challenges are unprecedented, but they can turn into extraordinary opportunities if we respond with ingenuity. The Covid19 epidemic is such an example. We still remember the urgency and the intense pressure when it broke out earlier this year. More than six months have passed; far from being beaten down by the virus, with our exemplary anti-epidemic effort we will be the only major economy to restore growth this year. Our country’s comprehensive strength and international influence have risen significantly despite the epidemic. We should reflect on the reasons for this and learn from the whole experience.

In short, the 14th Five-year Plan period (2021-2025) will be a critical time for China. To achieve further and greater development we should seize opportunities while guarding against potential risks. We should accurately understand the current changes we face, seize the initiative in building an effective response, and ultimately be the ones to seek change. We should be bold and set our sails for a headwind, and be ready to turn crises into opportunities. On the journey towards a modern socialist country in all respects, a great beginning beckons.


* Part of the speech at the second full assembly of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)