The Glorious Achievements of Scientific Development

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 14:41
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The decade since the convening of the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC has seen China overcoming all manner of risks, difficulties, and challenges to achieve a historic leap in the size of its economy. Over the past decade, China has comprehensively promoted reform, opening up, and modernization, and taken solid steps to transform its pattern of economic development. With rapid economic growth, remarkable improvements in living standards, overall advances in social programs, and a notably enhanced international status, China has captivated the world with its glorious achievements in economic and social development.

I. Remarkable advances in economic development, social productivity, and overall national strength

China’s adherence to scientific development and its implementation of appropriate and effective macro-control have led to the rapid growth of its national economy. During the period from 2003 to 2011, China’s GDP grew by an average rate of 10.7% per year in real terms, with the rate of growth for six of those years exceeding 10%. Even at the height of the international financial crisis in 2009, China still managed to achieve a growth rate of 9.2%. China’s average growth rate from 2003 to 2011 was not only far beyond the average global economic growth rate for that period, which totaled at 3.9%, but also higher than China’s average growth rate of 9.9% since the institution of the reform and opening up policy.

Constant advances have been made in the overall size of China’s economy. In 2011, China’s GDP reached 47.2 trillion yuan, which represents an increase of 150% over 2002 after adjusting for inflation. In 2005, China’s GDP exceeded that of Britain and France, ranking fourth globally. In 2008, China’s GDP surpassed that of Germany, making China the world’s third largest economy. In 2010, China passed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world after the US.

China’s contribution to global economic growth has increased constantly. When the world’s major economies were confronted with a severe slowdown in economic growth and even the risk of recession following the outbreak of the international financial crisis in the second half of 2008, China’s economy was able to sustain relatively rapid growth, rebounding quickly to become an important engine behind the global economic recovery. In 2002, the Chinese economy accounted for 4.4% of the world economy; in 2011, this figure increased to around 10%, while China’s average contribution to global economic growth exceeded 20%.

In addition to the steady growth of the economy as a whole, China’s GDP per capita has also increased rapidly. In 2011, China’s GDP per capita reached 35,083 yuan, an increase of 140% over 2002 after adjusting for inflation. This equates to an annual growth rate of 10.1%. Converted according to average exchange rates, China’s GDP per capita increased from US$1,135 in 2002 to US$5,432 in 2011.

An employee of the China National Petroleum Corporation measures natural gas flow at the Tainan gas production area of the Sebei gas field (photo taken on April 25, 2011). A gas pipeline running through Sebei-Xining-Lanzhou represents the main section of six pipelines that transport 10.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas over a distance of 3,000 kilometers every year. These pipelines constitute a major source of gas in China’s scheme to transfer natural gas from its western regions to its eastern regions. China has made new breakthroughs in infrastructure development since the convening of the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC, completing a series of landmark projects such as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and schemes to transfer natural gas and electricity from western to eastern China. With these accomplishments, China has succeeded in establishing a basic transportation grid that links all parts of the country together. This has not only afforded people greater convenience in their work and daily life, but has also created a sustained impetus for economic development. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Wang Bo

II. New strides in structural adjustment, the coordination of economic development, and competitiveness

Since the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC a decade ago, China has focused its efforts on the strategic adjustment of its economic structure. With unwavering commitment and a down-to-earth approach, China has made constant advances in its push to restructure its economy, leading to more comprehensive, coordinated, and sustainable economic development.

Primary, secondary, and tertiary industries have become more coordinated. China’s primary, secondary, and tertiary industries maintained rapid growth during the period from 2003 to 2011, recording average growth rates of 4.6%, 11.9%, and 11.1% respectively. On the power of this growth, China has established itself as one of the world’s major manufacturing nations. According to the international standard of industrial classification (ISIC), China’s industrial output ranks first in 7 of 22 sections, while its output of over 220 industrial products, including steel, cement, and automobiles, ranks first in the world. In addition, thriving emerging industries, such as new energy, new materials, and new pharmaceuticals, have become a new highlight of China’s economic growth. In 2011, service industry value-added as a percentage of the GDP rose to 43.1%, representing an increase of 1.6 percentage points over 2002. The role of the service industry as a foundation and driver of economic and social development is becoming increasingly apparent.

There have been notable improvements to the demand structure. The role of domestic demand as a stimulus for economic growth has become much greater owing to a national strategy aimed at boosting China’s domestic demand. During China’s response to the international financial crisis, the robust growth of domestic demand effectively made up for the drop in external demand, playing a crucial role in ensuring the steady and rapid growth of the economy. The contribution of domestic demand to economic growth went from 92.4% in 2002 to 104.1% in 2011, while the contribution of external demand dropped from 7.6% in 2002 to -4.1% in 2011.

The pace of urbanization has increased significantly. In 2011, China’s urbanization rate exceeded the 50% mark for the first time to reach 51.3%, representing an increase of 12.2 percentage points over 2002. This marks a historic change in China’s urban and rural structure.

China’s regional structure has been constantly optimized. We have achieved initial results in our efforts to build development priority zones, and continued with the in-depth implementation of regional development strategies such as the large-scale development of the western region, the revitalization of old industrial bases in northeast China, and the plan to lift the development of the central region. As the pace of industrial gradient transfer between regions has increased, we have constantly tapped into the potential for the development of central and western regions.

III. Major advances in infrastructure and basic industries and more solid conditions for economic development

In the decade since the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC, China has worked constantly to optimize the distribution of industry, consolidate the foundations of development, and remove developmental constraints. These efforts have led to tremendous achievements in the development of infrastructure and basic industries in China.

The agricultural foundation has been further consolidated and strengthened. China’s grain output reached 571.21 million tons in 2011, representing an increase of 25.0% over 2002 and an annual growth rate of 2.5% on average. Moreover, China’s grain output has remained above 500 million tons for five consecutive years, and recorded eight consecutive years of growth for the first time in 50 years. In recent years, China has consistently been the world’s largest producer of agricultural products such as grain, meat, peanuts, tea, and fruit.

Fixed-asset investment, especially investment in infrastructure and basic industries, has increased rapidly. From 2003 to 2011, China’s total fixed-asset investment amounted to 144.9 trillion yuan, representing an average annual increase of 25.2%. Of this total, investment in infrastructure accounted for 25.7 trillion yuan, and recorded an average growth rate of 21.9% from 2004 to 2011. In response to the international financial crisis, China implemented a four trillion yuan stimulus plan that was primarily directed towards key areas and weak links in economic and social development. This has led to the creation of a number of superior assets conducive to long-term development, thereby increasing the sustainability of our economic and social development.

Our capacity to produce and supply energy has steadily increased. In 2011, China’s total energy output was equivalent to 3.18 billion tons of standard coal, an increase of 110% over 2002. This output makes China the world’s top energy producer, and also means that its energy self-sufficiency rate is approximately 90%. China’s energy structure has also been further optimized. The proportion of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption has increased from 7.3% in 2002 to 8.0% in 2011. China also has the highest installed hydropower capacity in the world.

China’s transportation capacity has been constantly increased. We have witnessed the unprecedented development of our railways. Starting from scratch, China’s high-speed railways have developed at an incredible pace, and now represent a world-class level. As of 2011, a total of 93,000 kilometers of railway lines were in operation throughout the country, representing an increase of 29.6% over 2002. The total length of China’s highway network was 4.106 million kilometers in 2011, representing an increase of 130% over 2002. Of this total, expressways accounted for 85,000 kilometers, a whole 240% greater than the length in 2002. In addition, the length of civil aviation routes reached 3.491 million kilometers in 2011, increasing by 110% over the length in 2002; while the throughput at China’s ports has remained the highest in the world for seven consecutive years.

Postal and telecommunications industries have witnessed robust development. The number of fixed-line telephone subscribers reached 285.12 million at the end of 2011, up 33.1% over 2002. The number of mobile phone subscribers reached 986.25 million at the end of 2011, an increase of 380% over 2002. New services such as express delivery have emerged in quick succession; 3G mobile subscribers have increased sharply; and the number of Internet users has increased rapidly. In 2011, China had more than 510 million Internet users, ranking first in the world.

IV. Leapfrog advances in foreign trade and economic cooperation and the further deepening and expansion of opening up

In the decade since the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC, China has firmly grasped the opportunities presented by its accession to the WTO, actively responded to the impact and challenges brought about by the international financial crisis, continued to take into account both domestic and international situations, and strived to maintain the basic balance of payments. As a result, the Chinese economy and world economy have become more interactive and interdependent, and China’s international prestige and influence have risen to new heights.

The scale of import and export trade has constantly expanded. China’s total volume of imports and exports reached US$3.6421 trillion in 2011, representing an increase of 490% over 2002 and an annual growth rate of 21.7%. Exports accounted for US$1.8986 trillion, representing an increase of 480% and an annual growth rate of 21.6% since 2002; while imports accounted for US$1.7435 trillion, representing an increase of 490% and an annual growth rate of 21.8%. China’s total import-export volume has grown rapidly to become the second largest in the world. These totals make China the world’s largest exporter and second largest importer.

The mix of imports and exports has been constantly optimized. The proportion of industrial products in the total export volume increased from 91.2% in 2002 to 94.7% in 2011, the proportion of electro-mechanical products increased from 48.2% to 57.2%, and the proportion of high-tech products increased from 20.8% to 28.9%. At the same time, the import of advanced technology and equipment and key components has increased rapidly, and the import of bulk resources and energy products has grown constantly.

China has become the second largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. China utilized US$716.4 billion in foreign direct investment during the period from 2003 to 2011, and has attracted more foreign direct investment than any other developing country for consecutive years.

China began to invest in foreign countries as part of its accelerated efforts to “go global.” China’s non-financial outward direct investment increased from just US$2.9 billion in 2003 to US$60.1 billion in 2011, representing an increase of 19.7 fold over 2003.

V. Constant enhancements to living standards and greater public benefit from reform and development

China has continued to prioritize the improvement of public well-being in the decade since the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC, advancing with unwavering commitment on the path towards common prosperity. Owing to these efforts, living standards have been remarkably improved, the standard of public services has been raised significantly, and all of the people have been able to truly benefit from China’s achievements in reform and development.

Urban and rural incomes have increased rapidly. The per capita disposable income of urban residents in 2011 was 21,810 yuan, representing an increase of 180% over 2002. After adjusting for inflation, this equates to an annual growth rate of 9.2% in real terms since 2002. The per capita net income of rural residents was 6,977 yuan, representing an increase of 180% over 2002 and an annual growth rate of 8.1% in real terms after adjusting for inflation. The average growth rate of urban and rural incomes between 2002 and 2011 exceeded the average growth rate of 7.4% between 1979 and 2011, making this period of growth one of the most rapid ever. Moreover, the growth of rural incomes outpaced the growth of urban incomes in both 2010 and 2011, indicating that the gap between urban and rural incomes has narrowed.

Living standards have been significantly improved. In 2011, the Engel coefficient was 36.3% for urban families and 40.4% for rural families, down 1.4 and 5.8 percentage points respectively compared to 2002. At the end of 2011, for every 100 urban households there were 18.6 family-owned cars, 205.3 mobile phones, and 81.9 personal computers, representing increases of 2010%, 230%, and 300% respectively over the end of 2002; for every 100 rural households there were 61.5 refrigerators, 22.6 air conditioners, and 179.7 mobile phones, representing increases of 310%, 890%, and 1210% respectively. In 2011, the number of telephones per 100 people was 94.90, an increase of 180% over 2002.

Breakthroughs have been made in the development of a social safety net covering both urban and rural residents. China has succeeded in building the framework of a social safety net consisting primarily of social insurance and also including social assistance, social welfare, special assistance and placement for ex-service personnel, housing support, and non-government charity programs. We have put in place an initial medical insurance system that covers the whole population of 1.3 billion urban and rural residents. This includes a new type of cooperative medical care system for rural areas that has been built from scratch and progressively improved. A system of subsistence allowances that covers the entire population has been realized, and assistance systems covering both urban and rural areas have been basically established. At the end of 2011, 22.77 million urban residents and 53.06 million rural residents were benefiting from government subsistence allowances, representing increases of 2.12 million and 48.98 million respectively over 2002.

Poverty in rural areas has dropped constantly. According to the standard for low income, the number of impoverished rural residents dropped from 86.45 million at the end of 2002 to 26.88 million at the end of 2010. In 2011, the central government raised China’s poverty line to 2,300 yuan per year. This total equates to the per capita net income in rural areas at 2010 prices, and represents a 92% increase over the standard applied in 2009. According to this new standard, the number of poverty aid recipients in rural areas stood at 122.38 million at the end of 2011. The expansion of poverty alleviation initiatives to include more low-income residents in rural areas is a sign of huge social progress.

VI. New breakthroughs in social programs and greater coordination between economic and social development

Since the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC a decade ago, China has worked hard to achieve a balance between economic and social development, and these efforts have led to all-round progress in various social programs. In a major stride towards equity in education, compulsory education has been made free for all urban and rural children throughout the country. The overall level of education of the population has also been raised significantly, with the average length of schooling now exceeding nine years. We have constantly increased our investment in science and technology, paving the way for a number of significant achievements. In 2011, China invested a total of 861 billion yuan in R&D, representing an increase of 570% over 2002. Moreover, R&D spending as a proportion of the GDP went from 1.07% in 2002 to 1.83% in 2011. The development of the petascale supercomputer system “Tianhe-1” was carried out successfully; the manned submersible Jiaolong succeeded in reaching a depth of 5,188 meters below sea level; the yield of super hybrid rice in 6.67-hectare experimental plots exceeded 13.5 tons per hectare; the Chang’e-1 and 2 lunar probes were successfully launched; and the Shenzhou-5, 6 and 7 manned spaceflights were successfully accomplished. In particular, the successful docking of the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft with the Tiangong-1 space module marked a new milestone in China’s manned spaceflight. We have also made remarkable achievements in public health, successfully responding to the outbreak of major epidemic diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), highly pathogenic avian influenza, and influenza A (H1N1). Constant advances have also been made in cultural and sports programs, most notably the successful hosting of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the Shanghai World Expo 2010. These achievements fulfilled dreams that the Chinese people had cherished for a century, and provided a major boost to China’s international influence.

VII. Unprecedented emphasis on energy conservation, emissions reduction and environmental protection for more sustainable economic development

In the decade since the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC, China has worked hard to establish itself as an energy-conserving and environmentally friendly society, devoted unremitting efforts to the promotion of energy conservation and emissions reduction, and taken solid steps to enhance its protection of ecological environments. The inclusion of energy conservation and emissions reduction as binding targets in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for the first time led to constant enhancements in the sustainability of China’s economic development. Notable progress has also been made in energy conservation and the reduction of energy consumption. In 2011, energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped by 12.9% over 2002. In addition, the total discharge of pollutants has been controlled. By 2010, chemical oxygen demand and sulfur dioxide emissions had dropped by 12.45% and 14.29% respectively over 2005.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.12, 2012)

Author: Commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics

  

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