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Historic Achievements and Changes in Economic and Social Development

By Qiu Ping Source: Updated: 2023-07-14

In the new development stage, China has implemented the new development philosophy, accelerated the creation of a new development dynamic, and promoted high-quality development. China's total economic output grew at an average annual rate of 6.6%, from 53.9 trillion yuan in 2012 to 114.4 trillion yuan in 2021. Our proportion of the world economy has increased from 11.3% to more than 18%, and per capita GDP has risen from US$6,300 to more than US$12,000.

We have improved our capacity for innovation. China has achieved remarkable results in innovation-driven development. In science and technology, we have progressed from quantitative gains to qualitative leaps, and from sporadic breakthroughs to comprehensive capacity enhancement. Investment in innovation has increased significantly, with total R&D investment as a proportion of GDP having grown from 1.91% to 2.44%, which is close to the average for OECD countries. China has also risen from thirty-fourth to twelfth in the Global Innovation Index. We are experiencing a wave of major innovations, with breakthroughs in cutting-edge areas including neutrino oscillation, iron-based superconductivity, and brain science. We have also launched the global service of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, successfully developed the super-conducting quantum computing prototype Zuchongzhi, commissioned the independent third-generation nuclear reactor Hualong One, and basically developed a fully independent technological system for high-speed railway trains. China is brimming with innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity, as our international centers for innovative technology and comprehensive national science centers constantly improve. Beijing, Shanghai, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area are in the top ten science and technology innovation clusters in the world. The first batch of national laboratories has been established, and leading sci-tech companies are expanding. New technologies and new forms and models of business are flourishing, and strategic emerging industries, such as new generation information technology, biotechnology, high-end equipment, and environmental protection, are developing rapidly. The construction of new infrastructure is accelerating, with the building of 1.85 million 5G base stations accounting for 60% of the global total. The East-to-West Computing Capacity Diversion Project is progressing, and digital technologies, such as cloud computing, big data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, are becoming deeply integrated with traditional industries.

We have strengthened coordinated development. We are continually optimizing our economic structure, promoting coordinated development, and improving the overall balance of economic development. Our industrial transformation and upgrading have accelerated. Our national total grain output has topped 650 million metric tons for the last seven consecutive years. The integration of industrialization with informatization as well as advanced manufacturing with modern services has gained speed, the value-added of our manufacturing industry is the highest in the world, and the value-added of our service industry as a proportion of GDP increased from 45.5% in 2012 to 53.3% in 2021. The modern infrastructure network has improved, with over 150,000 kilometers of operational railways and the most modern railway network and the largest high-speed rail network in the world. Incredible achievements have been made in regional development. China has implemented major regional strategies, such as the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, integrated construction of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, and ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin. The eastern-central and eastern-western ratios of per capita gross regional product (GRP) fell from 1.69 and 1.87 in 2012 to 1.53 and 1.68 in 2021, respectively. Solid progress has been made in the rural revitalization strategy. The ratio of per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents has fallen from 2.88:1 to 2.5:1. Rural industries that benefit local people have maintained good development momentum. The proportion of rural areas with tap water has reached 84%, and those with sanitary toilets has exceeded 70%. New people-centered urbanization has advanced further, restrictions on household registration have been relaxed in an orderly manner, and the percentage of permanent urban residents increased from 53.1% in 2012 to 64.7% in 2021.

We have taken significant strides toward building a beautiful China. We are committed to the concept that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets and have achieved historic and wide-ranging changes in environmental protection. We have made major strategic achievements in our fight to keep our skies blue, waters clear, and land pollution-free. In 2021, the proportion of days with good or excellent air quality in cities at and above the prefectural level reached 87.5%, the proportion of surface water in China with excellent water quality increased to 84.9%, and the rate of safe utilization of contaminated arable land was above 90%. Efforts to reach peak carbon and achieve carbon neutrality are progressing steadily, and China is an active participant and driver of international cooperation on climate change. We have solemnly committed to achieving peak carbon by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 and formulated top-level designs and action plans to meet those objectives. Our energy consumption per unit of GDP has fallen 26.2%, and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP have been reduced by approximately 34%. China leads the world in the installed capacity of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, as well as production and sales of new energy vehicles, and social awareness of energy conservation and environmental protection has increased significantly. Ecosystem quality and stability in China have improved. We have coordinated the integrated protection and systematic management of mountains, rivers, forests, croplands, lakes, grasslands, and deserts. National parks, such as the Sanjiangyuan NP, have been formally established, a ten-year fishing ban in the Yangtze River has been enforced, and the river and lake chief systems and wetland protection system are gradually being put in place. National forest coverage is above 23%, and biodiversity is steadily recovering.

We have accelerated the creation of a new pattern of opening up. China has unceasingly expanded both the breadth and depth of its openness to the outside world, and fruitful progress has been made in the development of Belt and Road cooperation, with China-Europe Railway Express services registering a total of more than 50,000 trips to 24 European countries. The Foreign Investment Law and the Administrative Measures for Outbound Investment by Enterprises have been promulgated and implemented. The system of managing foreign investment on the basis of pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list has been fully implemented. Foreign investment utilization has grown steadily, with actually utilized foreign investment in China reaching 1.15 trillion yuan in 2021, an increase of 62.9% since 2012, and non-financial outbound direct investment has increased from US$77.2 billion to US$113.6 billion. A total of 21 pilot free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port have been set up, and China's status as the largest trader of goods in the world has grown, making China the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions. Average annual growth in trade in services was 6.3% during the past decade, and China has been the second largest trader of services in the world for the last six consecutive years. We are participating in global economic governance, including advocating the building of a global community of shared future and signing up to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and we are bringing our wisdom and strength to bear for the sake of world peace and development.

People's sense of fulfillment has increased markedly. China is striving to remedy shortcomings in meeting people's basic needs, continuing to improve public wellbeing, and consolidating efforts to ensure that people live and work in peace and contentment and that society is stable and orderly. Victory in the decisive battle against poverty has been achieved, with all 98.99 million rural poor people previously living under the current poverty line having been lifted out of poverty, and region-wide poverty has been eliminated. As a result, a historic resolution has been achieved to the problem of absolute poverty that had plagued the Chinese nation for thousands of years. This is a miraculous accomplishment in the history of humanity's poverty reduction efforts. People's living standards are improving, with an average annual increase of more than 13 million jobs in urban areas, per capita disposable income exceeding 35,000 yuan, and the middle-income group expanding to over 400 million. Equal access to basic public services is improving. The student retention rate over nine years of compulsory education was 95.4% in 2021, an increase of 3.6 percentage points since 2012, and we are close to achieving universal access to higher education. Efforts to build a healthy China are advancing, our ability to respond to public health emergencies has improved, and our multi-level medical service system is more robust. We are building the world's largest social security network, having increased the number of people covered by basic old-age insurance from 790 million to 1.03 billion and the number of people covered by basic medical insurance from 540 million to 1.36 billion.