Speech by Song Tao, Minister of the International Department, CPC Central Committee at the China-Africa Online Briefing on the Fifth Plenary Session of the Nineteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Distinguished leaders from African political parties,
On behalf of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC), I would like to extend my warm welcome to all of you for attending the China-Africa Online Briefing on the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee and my sincere greetings to all the friends old and new.
The recent Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee held successfully in Beijing is an important meeting of overarching and historic significance. As the functional department in charge of the CPC's external work, the IDCPC hosts this online briefing to help major political parties and organisations from Sub-Sahara Africa better understand the content and implications of the Fifth Plenary Session.
This on-line briefing is a new pioneering initiative for experience-sharing between the CPC and African political parties on state governance as our normal exchanges have been impeded by the raging of COVID-19. It therefore is very significant in helping us further strengthen our strategic communication, exchange practices and experience, deepen cooperation with solidarity and work together to build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
The Fifth Plenary Session, which was convened at an extraordinary timing with far-reaching impact, has attracted worldwide attention.
Domestically, China stands at a historical juncture when it is about to accomplish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and embark on a new journey to fully build itself into a modern socialist country. On the one hand, China is well-positioned and well-equipped to continue its development. On the other hand, it still confronts the outstanding challenge of unbalanced and inadequate development and is shouldered with arduous tasks on balancing reform, development and stability. Internationally, the once-in-a-century changes the world is undergoing have quickened its steps of evolution.
With COVID-19 exerting an extensive impact, the world has sailed into a territory of volatility and transformation. In this sense, the Fifth Plenary Session has not only shed new light on China's future development, but will also promote common development of all countries and bring more positive energy to the international community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The most important outcome of the Fifth Plenary Session is the adoption of The Proposals of the CPC Central Committee Regarding the Formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the 2035 Long-Range Objectives, which sets out the guiding principles, major objectives, key tasks, and major measures for China's development during the 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) period and envisages the long-range objectives of basically realising socialist modernisation by 2035, thus serving as a guide to action for China's economic and social development over the next five years and beyond. I would like to share with you the outcomes of this Plenary Session from five aspects.
First, new development achievements speak volumes about the unique features of the Chinese system. The Plenary Session highlighted China's decisive achievements in delivering moderate prosperity in all respects. During the 13th FYP period, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the advantages of leadership of the Party and the socialist system have become more prominent as shown in the new strides made in China's economic, scientific and composite national strength.
By the end of this year, China's GDP is set to exceed RMB 100 trillion yuan, and all the goals concerning people's livelihood will have been achieved. A total of 55.75 million poor population living in rural areas will be lifted out of poverty. The issue of absolute poverty, which has beset China for millennia, will have been resolved once and for all. The CPC's practice has proven that sound guiding principles must be combined with true understanding of the national conditions, people's fundamental interests, historic and cultural traditions, and the call of the times.
Only in this way can a ruling party translate its blueprint into reality. The Chinese system guarantees the above-mentioned factors. It can serve as a reference to all developing countries including African countries in their pursuit of independent progress.
Second, the new development stage implies the new historic juncture China now stands. The CPC spares no effort in analysing opportunities and challenges before making decisions. With in-depth analysis of the profound and complex changes facing China's development, the Fifth Plenary Session pointed out that at present and for some time in the future, China's development still faces strategic opportunities but there are and will be new developments in both opportunities and challenges.
The Plenary Session thus declared that China will enter a new development stage in the 14th FYP period, when the country will start to strive for the realisation of its second centenary goal of building China into a modern socialist country by the 100th centennial of the People's Republic of China.
This period is also a crucial stage for the country to uphold and improve the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and continue to modernise China's system and capacity for governance. We are convinced that under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we will, by seizing critical opportunities vital for the future amidst crises and opening up new prospects amidst changes, maintain rapid economic development and long-term social stability, and thus achieve our set development goals.
Third, the new development philosophy points out the direction for China's high quality development. Development philosophy provides guidance to development actions. As early as in the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Party proposed to pursue the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, and open development that is for everyone. This Plenary Session further articulated that the new development vision should be upheld throughout the whole process of development and across all sectors.
Efforts must be made to promote transformation in quality, in efficiency and in growth drivers so as to achieve development with higher quality, greater efficiency, more sustainability and more security. The new development vision has chartered the course for high quality development of China by answering the key question of what kind of development China should pursue in the new era and how to achieve it.
Fourth, new development goals constitute a grand blueprint for China's future progress. The Fifth Plenary Session identified two sets of goals for China's development. The near-term goals for the 14th FYP period, or six "new"s in short, include new results in economic development, new strides in reform and opening-up, new improvement in social etiquette and civility, new progress in building an ecological civilisation, new heights in people's wellbeing, and new levels of efficacy in state governance.
There are also nine long-range strategic objectives set to be attained by 2035, which are not only visionary and systematic but also down-to-earth and well-targeted. They constitute a blueprint for China's development over the next 15 years and is a consistent strategy to be carried out by generations.
It shows that the approach by our party to govern the nation through FYP formulation and implementation has become more systematic, holistic and well-coordinated. It also better responds to the call of the times, respects underlying laws and demonstrates greater creativity.
Fifth, the new development paradigm identifies the strategic priority for the 14th FYP period. The Plenary Session made a major arrangement of formulating a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This strategic decision is a natural choice in order to meet the demand of the new development stage that China is now in and to shape our new edge in international cooperation and competition.
I would like to reiterate to our African friends that the new development paradigm emphasises both domestic and international circulations, not China's domestic circulation alone. This new paradigm, in no way, implies any backtracking of China's opening-up policy. On the contrary, we will participate in the international circulation in a more in-depth manner, boost higher-quality opening-up, and further expand market access to foreign companies.
Meanwhile, the scale of China's foreign trade, use of FDI and outbound investment will continue to grow. This new paradigm will not only improve China's economic resilience but also drive the international economic circulation, enhance the reinforcement of domestic and international circulations, and bring new development opportunity to African countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed that making and implementing FYPs for national economic and social development is one of the major ways for our Party to govern the nation. Reviewing the past, we come to the conclusion that the history of making FYPs coincides with the arduous journey of the Chinese people to strive for splendid achievements and the evolvement of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. It is fair to say the success of making five-year plans lies in some enlightenments acquired by the Party throughout the years of its development. I would like to share them with our African friends.
First, we have always upheld the leadership of the Party and ensured that all plans reflect the vision of Party.
Making national development plans is a major way to translate the party's propositions into the will of the state. Only by upholding the leadership of the Party throughout the whole process of formulation and implementation, can national development plans stay on the right track and play their guiding role. When drafting the Proposals, General Secretary Xi Jinping, in his capacity as the head of the drafting team, personally steered the direction, set forth the framework and put forward major strategies. He reviewed and revised the draft Proposals more than once, providing the fundamental political guarantee to ensure the high quality of the document.
Second, we have always followed sound theories and ensured that all plans of actions follow the guidance of theories. The philosophy one believes in determines the action one takes. Thus the guiding theory constitutes the soul of all plans. Along with the continuous development of the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the national development plans get constantly improved.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has become the most important theory of our Party, which provides sound guidance for the formulation and implementation of FYPs. The Proposals, encapsulating the guiding principles and gist of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era from page one to the end, amounts to a chapter on development based on the pioneering endeavour in advancing the theory and practice by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core.
Third, we have always pursued the people-centered approach and responded to people's concerns. People's support gives our Party the greatest confidence to govern and constitutes the most solid base on which our Party and the nation are built. Our Party has always upheld the principal status of the people and ensured that our development is for the people and by the people, and the development result is delivered to the people.
The Proposals makes it clear that tangible progress must be made to ensure common prosperity. Major requirements are raised and measures are thus proposed to improve people's wellbeing and the quality of people's life, covering areas including, among others, employment, income, education, culture, sports, health, elderly care, and social security.
These efforts fully show our Party's commitment to accommodating to, safeguarding and further developing the fundamental interests of the vast majority of the people. The Proposals is a vivid reflection of the Party's people-centred philosophy.
Fourth, we have always been open to suggestions and endeavoured to build consensus. When formulating the Proposals, our Party has be open to hear all suggestions so as to pool wisdom in a democratic manner. In August this year, General Secretary Xi Jinping instructed that parallel efforts must be made to both strengthen top-level designing and solicit people's advice. In this regard, General Secretary Xi has chaired seven meetings to hear voices from all sides. Our Party, for the first time, solicited people's opinions on formulating the five-year plan via internet.
The Chinese people made over one million comments from which over 1000 pieces of advice were compiled and submitted to the drafting team. It is unprecedented for the CPC in its history to solicit opinions from so many people in such diversified forms. This is intra-party democracy and socialist democracy at play, and showcases the sound and democratic decision-making process.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee not only provides strong driving force for China's growth, but will also boost the confidence of all countries in the global economic recovery, and provide more growth opportunities for African countries.
First, China's commitment to expanding opening-up will provide greater market opportunities for Africa. China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group of over 400 million. The huge China market is considered the most promising in the world. In the first half of this year, China-Africa trade registered US 82.4 billion dollars and China's investment in Africa stood at US 1.72 billion dollars, an increase of 1.7% against all odds.
During the 14th FYP period, China will steadfastly expand all-round opening up, strengthen cooperation with Africa and support the building of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area so as to provide more market opportunities for African countries.
Second, China's commitment to enhancing innovation will provide greater cooperation opportunities for Africa. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out, high-quality development must be the key word for China's economic and social development during the 14th FYP period and innovation must be put at the core position of China's modernisation endeavours.
As some experts predict, the development of new infrastructure projects alone will bring about RMB 30 trillion yuan of investment. It can be expected that with new technologies, new industries, new models, and new forms of business and an enabling environment for innovation, China will offer to Africa more cooperation opportunities and assist Africa to develop high added-value economy.
Third, China's commitment to participating in global governance will create a favourable environment for the development of African countries. As a major growth engine of the world economy and an important force for human progress, China, together with Africa, will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation, adhere to the principle of extensive consultation and contribution for shared results, actively participate in the development and reform of the global governance system, jointly respond to global challenges, and promote international anti-epidemic cooperation and public health governance, so as to build a better world that enjoys lasting peace and common prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the years, the CPC and political parties in Africa have played an important role in shaping domestic and foreign policies as well as in promoting social development of our respective countries. In the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19, the CPC together with 45 political parties from 36 African countries issued a joint open letter calling for closer international cooperation against the virus, which has played an important role in garnering people's support and pooling people's strength to fight jointly against COVID-19. In the face of major changes unseen in a century compounded by the pandemic, we should, more than ever, deepen solidarity and cooperation to build a China-Africa community with a shared future. To this end, I would like to make three proposals.
First, we should promote win-win results for China-Africa practical cooperation. Since the beginning of this year, President Xi Jinping has held phone conversations with 7 African leaders, jointly hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidary Against COVID-19, and sent a joint congratulatory message to the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) together with Mr. Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Co-chair of FOCAC, thus charting the course for the future development of China-Africa relations. It's imperative for the CPC and African political parties to implement consensus reached by leaders of the two sides, and dovetail China's 14th FYP and 2035 Long-range Objectives with the AU's Agenda 2063 and development strategies of African countries.
We should identify the direction, tasks and measures of China-Africa practical cooperation. The CPC and political parties in Africa should encourage and support exchanges and cooperation among their thinks tanks and media outlets, and promote people-to-people exchanges so as to consolidate social basis for our practical cooperation.
Second, we should strengthen mutual learning for further exchanges on governance. The CPC and political parties in Africa have similar ideals and a fine tradition of mutual learning. Since the beginning of this year, we have been exploring new models of inter-party exchanges with African political parties in the context of COVID-19. Together, we hosted several webinars on topics including pursuing parallel progress in epidemic prevention and economic development, which have achieved good results.
The third volume of Xi Jinping: the Governance of China presents a vivid account of the theories and practices of General Secretary Xi Jinping on the governance of China since the 19th CPC National Congress. We stand ready to share with African political parties our ideas and experience on governance, and draw from the useful experience of fraternal parties of Africa.
Third, we should seek common ground while shelving differences to build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out, a system that is rooted in and nurtured by the soil of its country is most reliable and feasible.
There is no such a one-size-fits-all approach for countries to follow when making national economic and social development plans or choosing development paths, as they are directly related to the national conditions, cultural traditions and system of the specific country. China's is the modernisation with Chinese characteristics, the modernisation of a country with 1.4 billion people, and the modernisation that features common prosperity. The CPC stays committed to embracing the achievements of other cultures with an open mind and a broad perspective.
It calls for, out of the appreciation of diversity of the world, respecting the independent choices of development paths and models made by countries.
We will further step up exchanges and cooperation with African political parties in pursuit of a new type of party-to-party relations that seeks to expand common ground while reserving differences and enhances mutual respect and mutual learning. We seek to promote mutual understanding and trust among countries, political parties and peoples, with a view to building an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is an African proverb that goes, "One single pillar is not sufficient to build a house." We in China have a similar saying that reads, "The going is difficult when doing it alone; the going is made easier when doing it with many others." Under current circumstances, it is more imperative for political parties, think tanks and media outlets in China and Africa to come together, resolve difficulties through cooperation, explore new opportunities through crises, and create a greater future for China, Africa and the whole of humanity.