Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects: A Crucial Step for Realizing the Chinese Dream _ Qiushi Journal

Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects: A Crucial Step for Realizing the Chinese Dream

By: Qiu ShiFrom:English Edition of Qiushi Journal October-December 2015|Vol.7,No.4,Issue No.25 | Updated: 2015-Dec-15 12:29
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Throughout different periods of its history, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has set its objectives according to the wishes of the people and the most salient causes of each period, lending these objectives great emotional appeal, and allowing itself to rally together people from all ethnic groups in China in order to attain them. This has been the secret to the CPC’s ongoing success in leading China’s revolution, socialist construction, and reform.

Since the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC was convened in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as General Secretary has put forward a strategic blueprint for comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing the rule of law, and governing the Party with strict discipline. This “Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy” is a top-level design in which each component is organically related and interconnected. Building a moderately prosperous society is the primary strategic objective, while deepening reform, advancing the rule of law, and governing the Party with strict discipline are three strategic measures launched for the purpose of achieving this target. The Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy offers further clarification regarding the strategic orientation, focus, and principal objectives of the Party and government under the new situation, and provides an action plan for achieving the “Two Centenary Goals” and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. It has thereby opened up new frontiers for the CPC in running the country. 

I. Building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is both a common aspiration of the Chinese people, and an important milestone on the road to realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

From the advent of modern times, China’s efforts to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation have led it on an extraordinary journey. First, the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949 after more than a hundred years of struggle, allowing the people to become masters of their own country, and completing China’s historic transition from a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society to a socialist one. Subsequently, with socialist construction, and in particular with reform and opening up, the living standards of the Chinese people grew in historic leaps and bounds, first from poverty to subsistence, and then to moderate prosperity in overall terms. Upon entering the 21st century, the CPC put forward the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This clearly enunciated the common aspiration of the Chinese people, making moderate prosperity a stage of development that we must pass through as we work to achieve the third strategic objective of China’s modernization, as well as an important milestone on the road to realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

In the face of a highly complex international situation, as well as the arduous domestic tasks of reform, development, and stability, how should we go about pooling strength and overcoming difficulties, so as to build an all-round moderately prosperous society? The key is identification with a common goal, meaning that we must seek common ground and focus on the joint aspirations of people from all social strata, so as to reach consensus. It is against this backdrop that the notion of the Chinese Dream came into being. Put forth by General Secretary Xi, the Chinese Dream sets the realization of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as the direction of governance, and takes fulfilling the dream as a vision for the future. Fully reflecting the joint aspirations of both the CPC and the people, the Chinese Dream is not only a profound embodiment of the themes and objectives of China’s history since the advent of modern times, but also reveals a great deal about the historical destiny of the Chinese nation, and the direction in which China will develop in the future. The Chinese Dream has injected new meaning into the cause of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics, and has become a banner under which the entire CPC and the Chinese people come together and work towards a common objective. 

General Secretary Xi has discussed at length the meaning of the Chinese Dream, noting that “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the greatest dream of the Chinese people in our modern times. This is what we call the ‘Chinese Dream’.” The Chinese Dream involves “building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and developing China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious. In other words, the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation calls for making the country prosperous and strong, revitalizing the nation, and bringing happiness to the people. This is not only a profound embodiment of the aspirations of Chinese people today, but is also a deep reflection of our forefathers’ glorious tradition of tirelessly striving for progress.” “China has entered a decisive stage in its efforts to successfully build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Realizing this goal is a key step in turning the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation into reality.” These important statements tell us that the Chinese Dream represents our desire to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and is therefore a unification of past, present, and future. At the same time, building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is our objective during the current stage of our efforts to realize the Chinese Dream, and occupies an important historical position in the process of accomplishing this goal. Building a moderately prosperous society has therefore become a theme of the times as the CPC leads people of all ethnic groups in a concerted effort to realize the Chinese Dream.

The picture shows a new residential area in Longting Town, Yangxian County, Shaanxi Province, which has been built specially to relocate impoverished residents from Southern Shaanxi (Photograph taken on March 20, 2015). So far, targeted poverty-alleviation measures in Southern Shaanxi have lifted 410,000 people out of poverty.

PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER TAO MING

II. Building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is a completely new objective with rich connotations, and demonstrates the excellent prospects for the all-round development of Chinese socialism. 

The phrase “Xiao Kang,” meaning moderate prosperity, is an ancient Chinese expression, and represents the Chinese people’s enduring longing for a stable and happy life. The establishment of the socialist system has finally made it possible to realize this vision. Indeed, since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the CPC has carried out bitter explorations in its quest to do so. On the basis of China’s basic national conditions during the primary stage of socialism, and in accordance with the three-step strategy for modernization proposed by Deng Xiaoping, the Thirteenth National Congress of the CPC in 1987 elevated the goal of “achieving a comfortable life for the people” to the level of national strategy. By the year 2000, and after nearly 20 years of great endeavors in the realm of reform and opening up, China had quadrupled its GNP, and raised the people’s overall living standard to a moderately prosperous level. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC in 2002 put forward the objective of “building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.” In the ten years after this objective was put forward, China recorded a series of historic achievements, growing from the sixth to the second largest economy in the world, and laying a solid foundation for accomplishing the task of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. In light of changing domestic and international conditions, the Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC in 2012 advanced new, more demanding requirements for the development of a moderately prosperous society. These requirements touch upon five key areas. First, China’s economy must maintain sustainable and healthy development, which includes making significant progress in transforming the economic growth model, and doubling GDP and per capita income for both urban and rural residents between the years 2010 and 2020. Second, the scope of people’s democracy must be steadily expanded through the improvement of democratic institutions, the creation of new and more diverse forms of democratic participation, and the full implementation of law-based governance. Third, China’s cultural soft power must be strengthened, which includes helping people identify with the system of core socialist values, and establishing a system of public cultural services. Fourth, living standards must be raised in an all-round way, which entails making the delivery of basic public services more equitable, further increasing opportunities for employment, narrowing the gap in income distribution, and sharply reducing the number of poverty aid recipients. Fifth, significant improvements must be made in turning China into a society that conserves resources and protects the environment, which involves allowing the layout of development priority zones to take shape, and significantly improving the living environment. These new requirements, formulated in accordance with the overall plan for developing Chinese socialism, cover five areas of economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress. With a focus on solving prominent issues that have emerged during the process of building a moderately prosperous society, such as imbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable development, these requirements meet the intrinsic needs of comprehensively developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. They are not only an extension of the goal of building an all-round moderately prosperous society, set forth in the sixteenth and seventeenth national congresses of the CPC in 2002 and 2007, but are also well suited to the reality of China’s development. These requirements have a clearer policy orientation, are more targeted towards solving difficult developmental issues, and are more in line with the aspirations of the people. They reflect the continuous expansion of the path of Chinese socialism in practice, and demonstrate the bright prospects of Chinese socialism. 

Building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is the solemn commitment of the CPC to the Chinese people. The core of this commitment is embodied in the phrase “in all respects,” a notion with rich connotations. On the one hand, it indicates that moderate prosperity must cover all of society and “leave no one behind,” and that all regions in China must be taken into its fold, regardless of regional differences. On the other hand, it denotes that moderate prosperity touches upon every major area, including economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress, as well as Party building. Therefore, we must not only make economic development our central task, but must also comprehensively promote political, cultural, social, and ecological progress. We must make continuous efforts to unleash and develop productive forces, and progressively realize common prosperity and well-rounded development of the person, so as to build a moderately prosperous society that is of a higher quality and standard, more equitable, harmonious, and environmentally friendly, and better able to benefit the entire Chinese nation. The CPC has presented to the Chinese people in a more concrete and vivid way a bright vision for a moderately prosperous society in all respects, a vision which bears the weight of the whole nation’s new hopes for a better life. 

III. Development is the key to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Development continues to be the core issue that contemporary China faces. With a view to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, we must address the issues of what kind of development we should achieve, and how we should go about realizing development that is of higher quality, and more balanced, comprehensive, environmentally friendly, and sustainable. At present, China is the second largest economy in the world, and has already entered the ranks of middle income countries. In 2014, China’s GDP increased 7.4% over the previous year. Although the pace of economic growth has slowed somewhat compared with the high-speed growth of the past, China’s economic growth rate is still the highest among major world economies. Both the high-end manufacturing and modern service industries continue to develop at a fast pace, domestic consumption is making an increasingly sizeable contribution to the economy and energy consumption per unit of GDP declined 4.8% in 2014, demonstrating that the quality and efficiency of China’s economic development are improving. At the same time, however, it continues to be true that China is situated in the primary stage of socialism, and will continue to be so for a considerable period of time to come. China is still the largest developing country, with a GDP per capita ranking around 80th in the world, and a level of economic and technological development far behind that of advanced countries. According to China’s own poverty line, currently with an annual income of 2,300 yuan per capita, population of the poor in rural areas numbered 70.17 million at the end of 2014. Thus, it is vital for the revitalization of our country that we continue to take economic development as the central task. Development is both the basis for and the key to solving every problem that China faces, and therefore we must uphold development as an absolute principle and work to successfully manage China’s own affairs. 

Development must highlight both quality and efficiency, as these are intrinsic requirements for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China’s traditional growth model is unsustainable under the new normal of economic development, and therefore we must step up efforts to upgrade the quality and efficiency of our economic growth. Characterized by basic features such as a change of gear in economic growth, the optimization of the economic structure, and the transformation of drivers of economic growth, the new normal of economic development is undoubtedly a stage that China must pass through as it shifts towards a higher level of economic development. Our ability to better adapt to and guide the new normal of economic development is dependent on both the intensity of reform and innovation, and the transformation of drivers of growth. Innovation represents the most important driving force for growth. Thus, we must place more emphasis on innovation in science and technology, and strengthen innovation-driven growth. We must accelerate the formation of new drivers of economic growth, and support growth by increasing labor productivity, the efficiency of resource allocation, and the contribution of scientific and technological advances to growth. We must give greater priority to transforming the growth model and restructuring the economy. This involves maintaining policy continuity so as to keep expectations stable, while at the same time advancing economic restructuring through reform. Finally, we must maintain a staunch commitment to reform and opening up; fully unleash creativity; uphold social equity and justice more effectively; safeguard and improve public wellbeing more vigorously; and lay more emphasis on ecological progress. 

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.9, 2015)