I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here’s what I’m watching: the People’s Liberation Army, the PLA, on its 93rd anniversary, taking its measure over the past year. But how to tell its multifaceted story in four minutes? I’m going to exemplify the PLA’s year by highlighting two events – just two. The first, in January, was the PLA Navy commissioning its largest and most advanced surface warship, the Nanchang guided-missile destroyer. The second, in February, was the PLA Army’s rapid mobilization to fight the novel coronavirus.
Experts say China’s first 10,000-ton-class, Type 055 destroyer, the most powerful surface combatant in China’s navy (other than aircraft carriers), marks the navy’s leap from third to fourth generation. It is very versatile: it can accompany aircraft carriers in battle groups and can lead task groups in conducting a wide range of missions. The warship’s arsenal includes 112 vertical-launch missile cells capable of launching surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, land-attack missiles, and anti-submarine missiles. Observers say its commissioning reflects China’s deep blue-water strategy to safeguard, as they say, China’s sovereignty security and overseas interests.
When China’s senior leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, learned of the human-to-human transmission, soon after Xi’s directive to the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on January 20, Wuhan was put into lockdown and the PLA was called upon “to shoulder its responsibility” in the country’s uphill battle to control the outbreak. The PLA promptly dispatched elite forces to the frontline. Its Joint Logistic Support Force, which oversees vast resources and supplies in the PLA’s five Theater Commands, purchased 16 kinds of anti-epidemic and medical materials and set up a steady supply chain.
The PLA Central Theater Command General Hospital sent 66 doctors to two civilian hospitals in Wuhan; 450 PLA medics were transported from three cities; and three Theater Commands shipped medical gear, including 200,000 masks and 10,000 sets of protective clothing.
On February 1 and 2, the PLA sent 950 medics, some of whom had prior epidemic experience with SARS and Ebola; they were selected from hospitals in all five Theater Commands and transported to Wuhan by rail, bus and air, including the PLA’s Y-20 heavy transport aircraft. The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan hospital, famously constructed in 10 days, was turned over to the PLA, which provided 1,400 medical personnel, 950 from PLA hospitals and 450 from PLA medical universities.
In mid-February, the PLA brought in an additional 2,600 medical personnel from all PLA’s services, drawn from 19 cities. In total, the PLA brought more than 4,000 military medics to Wuhan, along with tons of critical medical supplies for the almost two-month long battle.
By early March, the PLA had operated 30 flights to move medics and medical necessities from across the nation, and ran a transportation support team of 130 trucks to help provide daily necessities to the epidemic-stricken region.
The PLA guided-missile destroyer represents China’s growing military strength, and will focus on contentious, overlapping claims in the South and East China Seas. The PLA deployment to fight COVID-19 expresses China’s priority to protect the health of its citizens and its epidemic-control experience may also help other countries contend with contagion. In its 93rd year, two sides of the same PLA coin.
I’m watching both.
Cameraman: Morgan Campagnon
How will China shape its new journey for the coming five years?
China is holding the widely-anticipated fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Beijing starting from Monday, with a focus on the blueprint for the country’s future.
Undoubtedly, China will keep upholding the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC and staying on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, but on the future prospects of the world’s second-largest economy as it prepares economic and social development plans for the next five years, questions remain.
How will China navigate this new stage of development? What will China’s economic and social roadmap be in the post-epidemic era? The following is a comprehensive guide for you to catch the pulse of the meeting.
Why does the meeting matter?
The highest decision-making bodies of the CPC, China’s ruling party, are composed of two parts: the CPC National Congress, and the CPC Central Committee elected by its national congress.
Here is a review of all such plenary sessions since late 2012:
The fourth plenary session last year reviewed and adopted the CPC Central Committee’s decision on some major issues concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance.
According to the agenda of this year’s session, the proposals for formulating the country’s 14th Five-Year (2021-2025) Plan for Economic and Social Development and future targets for 2035 will be assessed.
Drawn up every five years since 1953, the FYP is a major feature of China’s governance system, setting growth targets and defining economic and social development policies to ensure national strategies keep pace with the times.
Since 1953, China has formulated and implemented 13 FYPs. This year, for the first time, a 15-year “long-term vision” is mentioned along with the 14th version of the FYP, aiming for 2035 when the country’s socialist modernization is expected to be basically achieved.
Eyes on China’s plan for coming years
Development goals set for the 13th FYP period (2016-2020) are about to be accomplished, which will mark a new and major step forward in China’s economic and scientific power, as well as national strength.
Analysts said that given growing uncertainties, the 14th FYP has attracted great attention, as it will be the first FYP after China accomplishes building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realizing its first centennial goal in 2020, as well as making all-out efforts to achieve its second centennial goal – to build a great modern socialist country around 2049.
“The 14th Five-Year Plan will be a critical plan, drawn up at a critical time,” said Wang Changlin, president of the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the National Development and Reform Commission.
The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has said that the FYP is a “vivid practice of China’s socialist democracy.” But how?
China has solicited public opinions online on compiling the 14th FYP since August 15, and by convening and presiding over a number of symposiums, Chinese President Xi Jinping has directly listened to opinions and advice on the country’s economic and social development in the 2021-2025 plan period from all walks of society.
After gathering suggestions widely, how will the blueprint be drawn up?
Clues can be found from the Political Bureau’s meetings, during which the following principles are stressed in making the 14th FYP – upholding the overall leadership of the CPC, maintaining and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, putting people first, building a new development pattern, deepening reform and opening up and forestalling and defusing major risks and challenges.
Adhering to these key points, three aspects may be highlighted in the plan.
– Dual circulation
First introduced in May, the new development pattern known as “dual circulation,” which takes the domestic market as the mainstay while letting domestic and foreign markets boost each other, has been placed high on the authorities’ agenda.
In pursuing the new development pattern, scientific and technological innovation, especially making breakthroughs in core technologies, is widely regarded as the key to shaping domestic circulation.
When talking about what to expect for the next five-year plan, Bert Hofman, former World Bank Country Director for China, told CGTN during an interview that the dual circulation is a vital strategy in China’s economic blueprint.
“Two elements of more domestic demand and more domestic capability and innovation are, I think, an important part of the dual circulation. It does not mean that China is going to close down,” he said, and added that the domestic circulation is going to be more important than the international circulation when rebalancing towards more domestic capabilities.
“Over the past decade, China has increased household consumption in GDP a little bit, from 35 percent to about 40 percent but it has a long way to go,” he said.
– High-quality development in economy
While chairing a meeting on the new plan in November last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed several principles of making the new plan, including to keep the economy running within a reasonable range, to promote high-quality development, to emphasize the vision of people-centered development and to highlight the role of reform and innovation in tackling difficulties.
Following the principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, all regions and departments have deepened the all-round reform, taken the initiative to further open up and maintained medium-high economic growth within a reasonable range, he said.
Wang Tao, the chief China economist at UBS Investment Bank, predicted in his article that the 14th FYP will emphasize fostering structural changes domestically and improve the quality of growth.
“This means that the 14th FYP will likely set ambitious targets for urbanization (likely another 5-point increase in hukou urbanization rate), new urban employment growth (possibly another $50 million in 2021-25), increase in shares of consumption and services, improvement in the social safety net, and an increase in education and research and development spending,” said the economist.
– People’s sense of fulfillment, happiness and security
Aside from providing the general direction, the 14th FYP is more like “a super policy package” – setting quantitative indexes on many fields, including economic growth and environmental protection, and listing major programs and infrastructure projects affecting people’s livelihood, Yan Yilong, a research fellow with the Center for China Studies at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.
Meeting people’s ever-growing needs for a better life has always been an important issue in China, and Xi Jinping has called for efforts in promoting the development of China’s education, culture, health and sports sectors to reach the goal.
In this regard, policies concerning these areas will undoubtedly be covered in the 14th FYP.
Managing editor: Duan Fengyuan
5th anniversary of the Five Major Development Concepts
I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here’s what I’m watching: the 5th anniversary of the Five Major Development Concepts, formulated by President Xi Jinping in 2015 as the overarching, guiding strategy for China’s economic and social development. According to Xi, China’s model, going forward, is driven by “innovation, coordination, green, openness, and sharing”.
I was there at the beginning, investigating each of the Five Major Development Concepts. I saw how the Five Concepts began to inform the thinking and guide the behavior of officials at all levels of government.
Fast forward five years, what has happened? What has been accomplished? What challenges lie ahead?
First is innovation – now more important than ever, especially in light of fierce technology competition with the U.S., President Xi calls for China to lead the global technological revolution, and make innovation the primary driver of economic growth, stressing that success depends on strengthening property rights and protection of entrepreneurs. A challenge for innovation: how long will it take China to produce world-class semiconductor chips?
Second is coordination – actualized by three mega-regions: in the south, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with around $2 trillion in GDP. In the east, centered on Shanghai, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, nine provinces and two centrally administrated municipalities that constitute about 40 percent of China’s GDP. In the north, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region including the new city of Xiong’an, where non-core functions of the Chinese capital will migrate. A challenge for coordination: how to balance coordination with competition, such as between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
Third is green – China is now a world leader in renewable energy: producing, utilizing and financing renewable power. China has the lead in hydro, solar and wind energy. Moreover, China is building and financing cutting-edge renewable energy projects globally. A challenge for green: how can China reduce its dependence on coal.
Fourth is openness – China is continuing to open markets to foreign entry, such as in service industries like finance, and designating new free trade zones, such as the entire island province of Hainan. A challenge for openness: with China relying more on its domestic market, and with the U.S. threatening to decouple, how can China continue to reform?
Fifth is sharing – where more-developed regions partner with less-developed regions, such as in poverty alleviation, fighting epidemics, and healthcare. For example, Shanghai hospitals partnering with Qinghai hospitals in minority areas. The challenge for sharing: How to make it self-sustaining.
For China now to transition from its first centenary goal of becoming a “moderately prosperous society (in all respects)” in 2020, to its second centenary goal of becoming a fully modernized socialist nation in 2050, the Five Major Development Concepts remain crucial.
I’ll keeping watch. I’m Robert Lawrence Kuhn.
Challenges, goals and proposals from China’s ruling party plenum communique
The 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded its fifth plenary session in Beijing on Thursday with the release of a communique.
The 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 are the key topics of the communique.
Here is a look at all the highlights from the communique of the meeting.
The CPC’s fifth plenum and China’s 14th Five-Year Plan 2021-2025
Decisive success made in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects
This year is the final year of China’s 13th FYP period (2016-2020), and the communique highlighted that the implementation of the 13th FYP has been smooth.
By adhering to the new development concept and unswervingly advancing reform and opening-up, great achievements have been made since the fourth plenary session, the communique said.
During the past year, China has deepened supply-side reform, enhanced macro-economic regulation and expanded domestic demand as the strategic foundation.
Economic growth has been better than expected, people’s livelihood has been improved and social stability has been maintained.
During the 13th FYP period, which is coming to an end in 2020, China has made great progress with stable economic growth and better economic structure, the communique said, noting China’s GDP is expected to surpass the 100 trillion yuan ($14.9 trillion) mark in 2020.
More than 55 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty in the past five years.
China has built the world’s largest social security system in the 13th FYP period, the communique said, adding that the country’s basic medical insurance has covered over 1.3 billion people, and basic old-age insurance has covered nearly 1 billion people.
Meanwhile, during the past five years, more than 60 million new jobs were created in China’s urban areas, it said.
As for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole country coordinated the prevention and control work with economic and social development and put people’s safety and health first.
Major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics was vigorously promoted, and major achievements were made in various undertakings of the Party and state.
The strength of the leadership of the CPC and the Chinese socialist system has been further demonstrated in the past five years, it added.
New challenges, opportunities ahead
With regards to the blueprint for the future, the communique stressed that the whole Party must take into account the overall strategic plan for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation with major changes in the world that have not occurred in a century.
A thorough understanding is necessary about the new characteristics and requirements brought about by the changes in the evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society, it said.
Also, given that China is in the primary stage of socialism, more attention should be paid to the new contradictions and challenges brought by the complex international environment.
The communique underlined the importance of strengthening awareness of opportunities and risks and cultivating opportunities amid crisis.
Additionally, the CPC has raised a set of long-range objectives for China to achieve socialist modernization by 2035.
China’s economic, technological and composite strength was also stressed, as well as development in new industrialization and the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance.
The communique also said effort was needed in boosting the well-rounded development of society, including social etiquette and civility and the advancement of eco-friendly ways of work and life.
China’s opening-up, per capita GDP, the implementation of the Peaceful China initiative and well-rounded human development were also highlighted.
As for the goals to be reached during the 14 FYP period, the communique said that the overall leadership of the CPC must be upheld to realize the 14th FYP and efforts should be made to mobilize all positive factors and rally all the forces that can be rallied to form a strong synergy to promote development.
Proposals to reach the goals
– Uphold the central role of innovation in its modernization drive and implement an innovation-driven strategy.
– Build a modern industrial system and upgrade the economic structure. It will continue to support the real economy, improve manufacturing power and modernize the industrial and supply chain to improve high-quality growth and core competitiveness.
– Nurture a strong domestic market and establish a new development pattern. The country will smooth domestic circulation and let domestic and international circulation reinforce each other, spurring consumption in an all-round way and expanding investment.
– Deepen reform comprehensively in pursuit of a high-level socialist market economy.
– Prioritize the development of agriculture and rural areas and fully advancing rural vitalization.
– Advance coordinated regional development and a new type of urbanization.
– Promote the cultural sector and improve its cultural soft power.
– Accelerate green and low-carbon development, continuously improve the environment and quality and stability of ecosystems and raise the efficiency of resource utilization.
– Pursue high-level opening-up and explore new prospects of win-win cooperation.
It will continue to widen the opening-up and leverage the advantages of its huge market to promote international cooperation and achieve win-win results.
– Improve people’s standard of living and actively implement strategies to address the aging population.
– Strengthen national security capabilities and increase the capacity to deal with traditional and non-traditional security challenges to protect people’s lives and security and maintain social stability.
– Maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and promote the reunification of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, as well as peaceful cross-Strait development.
It aims to keep a stable external environment and promote the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for humanity.
A total of 198 members and 166 alternate members of the CPC Central Committee attended the meeting.
Also present were members of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and senior officials of relevant sectors, as well as experts, scholars and several deputies of the 19th CPC National Congress who work at the grassroots level.
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