China’s ongoing two sessions — the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National
Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — carry extra weight because the new leadership and national strategies coming out of this political event will steer the nation to advance Chinese-style modernization.
Two of the five key features of Chinese-style modernization are the pursuit of common prosperity for all people and the pursuit of peaceful development. These are predetermined by the nature of the country’s socialist system with Chinese characteristics as well as the fundamental aspiration of the Communist Party of China — seeking happiness for the people — which runs through the course of national strategy.
China’s national strategy has always centered on the well-being of the people from start to finish and has three primary features.
First, it has a time dimension. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, successive administrations have consistently formulated national socioeconomic development plans with a five-year time frame. The one being implemented now is the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).
Second, there are specific targets for national development, with GDP being the primary indicator for economic development. Each of the national five-year plans usually sets an average annual growth target for the respective five-year period, while the growth target for an individual year is set at the annual session of the National People’s Congress.
Two of the five key features of Chinese-style modernization are the pursuit of common prosperity for all people and the pursuit of peaceful development. These are predetermined by the nature of the country’s socialist system with Chinese characteristics as well as the fundamental aspiration of the Communist Party of China — seeking happiness for the people — which runs through the course of national strategy
The CPC Central Committee also sets targets for a longer time frame. For example, the 13th National Congress of the CPC proposed to quadruple China’s GDP from 1981 to the end of the 20th century, and that target was attained in 1995, five years ahead of schedule. The 15th Party Congress proposed to double GDP over the first decade of the 21st century from 2000, and the target was achieved three years earlier in 2007. The 16th Party Congress proposed to quadruple GDP by 2020 from 2000, and the goal was reached four years in advance in 2016. The 17th Party Congress shifted its primary indicator from GDP to GDP per capita, and proposed to quadruple GDP per capita by 2020 from 2000, and the goal was materialized in 2017, three years ahead of schedule.
Since the 18th Party Congress, the CPC Central Committee, with General Secretary Xi Jinping at the core of leadership, has come up with an awe-inspiring development strategy for the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, underpinned by a series of specific goals, including the eradication of absolute poverty by 2021 upon achieving the nation’s first-centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, as well as the realization of the second-centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects by 2049.
Third, China’s national strategy is always people-centric. General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized that “the country is the people, and the people are the country”. The fundamental purpose of Chinese-style modernization is to create not only material wealth but also spiritual wealth to meet people’s growing needs for a better life.
The United States, however, does not want to see the Chinese people enjoy a living standard comparable to that of Western developed countries. Such an attitude is predetermined by the US’ hegemonic strategy for national development. Since the founding of the USA, no matter which political party is in power, be it the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, Washington has never failed to come up with strategies for expansion and interference overseas to attain and maintain a global hegemony that benefits the country in many aspects, particularly economic interests. Since its independence on July 4, 1776, out of its nearly 247 years in existence, there have only been 16 years when the US was not engaged in warfare. Its most prominent national strategy is about military actions abroad to promote its interests.
Successive US administrations invariably believe in a capitalist market economy. Therefore, other than adjusting its fiscal and monetary policies for necessary macroeconomic regulation, the US government has rarely formulated grand strategies for nationwide socioeconomic development.
Hence, although the US is the world’s largest economy, its infrastructure is rather backward. Its railway system, for example, is far behind China’s high-speed rail system. A recent accident in the US, moreover, exposed the poor condition of its infrastructure.
On the evening of Feb 3, a freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Among the 50 derailed carriages, 11 of them carried dangerous goods, including toxic vinyl chloride. Three days later, local emergency crews released and burned some of the toxic chemical for fear of an explosion. Three days after that, not only were local residents becoming sick, there were also widespread reports of diseases and deaths among pets, poultry and wild animals. According to the announcement made by the railway operator, Norfolk Southern, on Feb 20, approximately 8,000 kilograms of contaminated soil and 4.1 million liters of contaminated water were excavated from the site.
While the findings of the Ohio train accident are yet to be fully disclosed by the US authorities, the horrific episode has alarmed Americans about their country’s antiquated railway system and the authorities’ disregard for citizens’ well-being. One particularly poignant criticism was directed at US President Joe Biden, who was accused of being quick to inflame tensions between Russia and Ukraine, but slow to visit the scene to console and reassure the victims. Indeed, foreign policies seem to weigh more on his mind than the well-being of citizens.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.